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Economic Profitability Versus Ecological Entropy

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  • Martin L. Weitzman

Abstract

There is a long-standing trade-off in bioculture between concentrating on high-yield varieties and maintaining sufficient diversity to lower the risks of catastrophic infection. The paper uses a simple ecology-based model of endogenous disease to indicate how a local decision to plant more of a widely grown crop creates negative externalities by increasing the probability that new pathogens will evolve to attack the crop globally. Society's basic issue concerns where to locate on an efficiency frontier between economic profitability and a standard formula for ecological entropy - proved here to be a rigorous measure of "generalized resistance" to crop-ecosystem failure. © 2000 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 115 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 237-263

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:1:p:237-263

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Cited by:
  1. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2001. "Valuing Biodiversity from an Economic Perspective: A Unified Economic, Ecological and Genetic Approach," Working Papers 0102, University of Crete, Department of Economics.
  2. Admiraal, Jeroen F. & Wossink, Ada & de Groot, Wouter T. & de Snoo, Geert R., 2013. "More than total economic value: How to combine economic valuation of biodiversity with ecological resilience," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 115-122.
  3. Baumgartner, Stefan & Becker, Christian & Faber, Malte & Manstetten, Reiner, 2006. "Relative and absolute scarcity of nature. Assessing the roles of economics and ecology for biodiversity conservation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(4), pages 487-498, October.
  4. Cecilia Bellora & Jean-Marc Bourgeon, 2014. "Agricultural Trade, Biodiversity Effects and Food Price Volatility," Working Papers hal-00969083, HAL.
  5. Heikkila, Jaakko, 2006. "Economics of invasive alien species: pre-emptive versus reactive control," Discussion Papers 11865, MTT Agrifood Research Finland.
  6. Françoise Benhamou & Stéphanie Peltier, 2007. "How should cultural diversity be measured? An application using the French publishing industry," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 85-107, June.
  7. Timo Goeschl & Timothy Swanson, 2003. "On Biology and Technology: The Economics of Managing Biotechnologies," Working Papers 2003.42, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  8. S. Aulong & K. Erdlenbruch & C. Figuières, 2005. "Un tour d'horizon des critères d'évaluation de la diversité biologique," Post-Print hal-00452144, HAL.
  9. Hennessy, David A., 2005. "Informed Control Over Inputs and Extent of Industrial Processing," Staff General Research Papers 12377, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  10. Béné, C. & Doyen, L., 2008. "Contribution values of biodiversity to ecosystem performances: A viability perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 14-23, December.
  11. Timo Goeschl & Timothy Swanson, 2002. "The Social Value of Biodiversity for R&D," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(4), pages 477-504, August.
  12. Sarr, Mare & Goeschl, Timo & Swanson, Tim, 2008. "The value of conserving genetic resources for R&D: A survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 184-193, September.
  13. Polasky, Stephen & Costello, Christopher & Solow, Andrew, 2005. "The Economics of Biodiversity," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1517-1560 Elsevier.

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