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Natural resource accounting in theory and practice: A critical assessment

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  • Harris, Michael
  • Fraser, Iain

Abstract

In this paper an extensive review of the theoretical and applied literature on natural resource accounting (NRA) is provided. The review begins by explaining the economic theory that underpins NRA, contrasting welfare and sustainability as policy goals, and presenting various distinct conceptions of national income. The state of play regarding official revisions to the system of national accounts (SNA) with respect to natural resources and the environment is presented and controversial areas are highlighted. Finally, the economic literature on proposed revisions, and applied studies that have proceeded using these methods, is summarised and critiqued. We argue that much of the literature proceeds with weak conceptual foundations, and that typical case studies produce results that are ambiguous in interpretation. Moreover, we highlight fundamental tensions between economic theory and national accounting methodology, and conclude that one outcome of this has been the insufficient attention paid by economists to the revisions to the SNA; instead devoting time and effort to ‘freelance’ NRA case studies utilising sometimes ad hoc methods from the economic literature.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in its journal Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 46 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:ags:aareaj:118995

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Keywords: Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Brian Walker & Leonie Pearson & Michael Harris & Karl-Göran Maler & Chuan-Zhong Li & Reinette Biggs & Tim Baynes, 2010. "Incorporating Resilience in the Assessment of Inclusive Wealth: An Example from South East Australia," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 45(2), pages 183-202, February.
  2. Randall, Alan, 2008. "Is Australia on a sustainability path? Interpreting the clues," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 52(1), March.
  3. Gren, Ing-Marie & Isacs, Lina, 2009. "Ecosystem services and regional development: An application to Sweden," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2549-2559, August.
  4. Matthew Clarke & Sardar M. N. Islam, 2006. "National account measures and sustainability objectives: present approaches and future prospects," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 219-233.
  5. Michael Harris, 2001. "The Income of Nations: Measurement with (What?) Theory," Working Papers 2001.09, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  6. Ossama Mikhail & J. Walter Milon & Richard Hofler, 2005. "Is Investment in Environmental Quality a Solution to Recessions? Studying the Welfare Effects of Green Animal Spirits," Others 0510010, EconWPA.
  7. Harris, Michael, 2003. "Depreciation and Obsolescence in the Context of Natural Resource Accounting," 2003 Conference (47th), February 12-14, 2003, Fremantle, Australia 57886, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

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