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Frontiers and sustainable economic development

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  • Edward Barbier

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Abstract

Exploiting new resource “frontiers,” such as agricultural land and mineral reserves, is a fundamental feature of economic development in poor economies. Yet frontier-based development is symptomatic of a pattern of economy-wide resource exploitation in developing economies that: (a) generates little additional economic rents, and (b) what rents are generated are not being reinvested in other sectors. Such development is inherently unsustainable. The following paper explains this phenomenon, and provides evidence that long-run expansion of agricultural land and oil and natural gas proved reserves across poor economies is associated with lower levels of real income per capita. The paper proposes a frontier expansion hypothesis to explain why the structural economic dependence of these economies on frontier land expansion and resource exploitation is not conducive to sustained long-run growth. The key to sustainable economic development in poor economies will be improving the economic integration between frontier and other sectors of the economy, targeting policies to improved resource management in frontier areas and overcoming problems of corruption and rent-seeking in resource sectors. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 271-295

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:37:y:2007:i:1:p:271-295

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100263

Related research

Keywords: Economic development; Frontier; Natural capital; Natural resources; Resource-abundant economies; Sustainable development; O13; O41; Q32; Q33;

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References

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  1. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-74, December.
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  18. Barbier, Edward B. & Damania, Richard & Leonard, Daniel, 2005. "Corruption, trade and resource conversion," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 276-299, September.
  19. Edward B. Barbier, 2005. "Natural Resource-Based Economic Development in History," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(3), pages 103-152, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Frankel, Jeffrey A., 2012. "The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey of Diagnoses and Some Prescriptions," Working Paper Series rwp12-014, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Sali, Guido, 2012. "Agricultural Land Consumption in Developed Countries," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126431, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  3. Frank Convery, 2007. "Making a difference — how environmental economists can influence the policy process — a case study of David W Pearce," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 7-32, May.

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