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Viewpoint: Sustainability: Malthus revisited?

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  • James A. Brander

Abstract

The sustainability debate concerns whether the world will experience stable or improving living standards for the foreseeable future, or whether the current trajectory will overtax the natural environment, leading to a `crash' in living standards. This paper selectively reviews relevant research, focusing on both ecological concerns and technological progress, and asks whether susta inability would be problematic without rapid population growth. I suggest that continued demographic transition to lower fertility is the primary requirement for achieving sustainable development. This is, effectively, a modern translation of Malthus (1798) evolution.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-38

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:40:y:2007:i:1:p:1-38

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  1. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Dalton, Thomas R. & Coats, R. Morris & Asrabadi, Badiollah R., 2005. "Renewable resources, property-rights regimes and endogenous growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 31-41, January.
  3. Harford, Jon D, 1998. "The Ultimate Externality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 260-65, March.
  4. R. Morris Coats & Thomas R. Dalton, 2000. "Could institutional reform have saved Easter Island?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(5), pages 489-505.
  5. James Brander & M. Scott Taylor, 1997. "International Trade Between Consumer and Conservationist Countries," NBER Working Papers 6006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pezzey, John C. V. & Anderies, John M., 2003. "The effect of subsistence on collapse and institutional adaptation in population-resource societies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 299-320, October.
  7. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716, August.
  8. Pawlowski, Christopher W. & Fath, Brian D. & Mayer, Audrey L. & Cabezas, Heriberto, 2005. "Towards a sustainability index using information theory," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 1221-1231.
  9. Arthur J. Robson & Hillard S. Kaplan, 2003. "The Evolution of Human Life Expectancy and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 150-169, March.
  10. Good, David H. & Reuveny, Rafael, 2006. "The fate of Easter Island: The limits of resource management institutions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 473-490, June.
  11. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 150-154, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2008. "Sustainable growth in a resource-based economy: the extraction-saving relationship," MPRA Paper 12350, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2007. "Switching to a sustainable efficient extraction path," MPRA Paper 2976, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2008. "Inconsistency between a criterion and the initial conditions," MPRA Paper 6792, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2008. "Sustainable growth: Compatibility between criterion and the initial state," MPRA Paper 9914, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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