ratchet effect

intermittent growth, increase, expansion, or the like: the ratchet effect of defense expenditures.


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World English Dictionary
ratchet effect
economics an effect that occurs when a price or wage increases as a result of temporary pressure but fails to fall back when the pressure is removed

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
Taking measures to increase safety suffers from the ratchet effect in the same
  way that technology does.
Moreover, there's plenty of time, since evolution uses a ratchet effect of
  developing a form and then morphing it for other uses.
Dieters, even successful ones never seem to understand the ratchet effect of
We need clear thinking about the ratchet effect on our expectations.
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