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An axiomatic approach to sustainable development

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  • Graciela Chichilnisky

Abstract

The paper proposes two axioms that capture the idea of sustainable development and derives the welfare criterion that they imply. The axioms require that neither the present nor the future should play a dictatorial role. Theorem 1 shows there exist sustainable preferences, which satisfy these axioms. They exhibit sensitivity to the present and to the long-run future, and specify trade-offs between them. It examines other welfare criteria which are generally utilized: discounted utility, lim inf. long run averages, overtaking and catching-up criteria, Ramsey's criterion, Rawlsian rules, and the criterion of satisfaction of basic needs, and finds that none satisfies the axioms for sustainability. Theorem 2 gives a characterization of all continuous independent sustainable preferences. Theorem 3 shows that in general sustainable growth paths cannot be approximated by paths which approximate discounted optima. Proposition 1 shows that paths which maximize the present value under a standard price system may fail to reach optimal sustainable welfare levels, and Example 4 that the two criteria can give rise to different value systems.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 13 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 231-257

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:13:y:1996:i:2:p:231-257

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  1. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1977. "Development patterns and the international order," MPRA Paper 7991, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1993. "The Cone Condition, Properness, and Extremely Desirable Commodities," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 177-82, January.
  3. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Global Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 851-74, September.
  5. Dutta, P.K., 1991. "What Do Discounted Optima Converge To? A Theory of Discount Rate Asymptotics in Economic Models," RCER Working Papers 264, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  6. Chichilnisky, Graciela & Kalman, P. J., 1979. "Application of functional analysis to models of efficient allocation of economic resources," MPRA Paper 8004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "Social Diversity, Arbitrage, and Gains from Trade: A Unified Perspective on Resource Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 427-34, May.
  8. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Asheim, Geir B., 1991. "Unjust intergenerational allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 350-371, August.
  10. Dutta, Prajit K., 1991. "What do discounted optima converge to?: A theory of discount rate asymptotics in economic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 64-94, October.
  11. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1993. "North-South trade and the dynamics of renewable resources," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 219-248, December.
  12. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1993. "The abatement of carbon emissions in industrial and developing countries," MPRA Paper 8390, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Chichilnisky, Graciela & Heal, Geoffrey & Beltratti, Andrea, 1995. "The Green Golden Rule," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 175-179, August.
  14. repec:fth:coluec:644 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Chichilnisky Graciela & Heal Geoffrey M., 1993. "Competitive Equilibrium in Sobolev Spaces without Bounds on Short Sales," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 364-384, April.
  16. Chichilnisky, G., 1990. "On Strategic Control," Discussion Papers 1990_30, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  17. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1982. "Social Aggregation Rules and Continuity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 337-52, May.
  18. Solow, Robert, 1993. "An almost practical step toward sustainability," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 162-172, September.
  19. Lauwers, Luc, 1993. "Infinite Chichilnisky rules," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 349-352.
  20. Pasinetti,Luigi, 1993. "Structural Economic Dynamics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521432825, April.
  21. Asheim, Geir B, 1988. "Rawlsian Intergenerational Justice as a Markov-Perfect Equilibrium in a Resource Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 469-83, July.
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  1. > Environmental and Natural Resource Economics > Climate economics > Discounting, equity, uncertainty
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