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Considering future generations - sustainability in theory and practice

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  • Christine Carmody

    (Treasury, Government of Australia)

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    Abstract

    The concept of sustainability has become increasingly popular in international and domestic debate on social progress; it is also a key dimension of the Treasury wellbeing framework. However, confusion surrounds the concept, its measurement and its application in decision-making. Defined as maintaining or increasing wellbeing between generations, sustainability requires a focus on aggregate stocks of capital. Key features of the sustainability problem are uncertainty about the future, thresholds and substitutability between capital stocks. It is these issues, rather than theoretical paradigms, that are of practical importance to decision-makers.

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    File URL: http://www.treasury.gov.au/PublicationsAndMedia/Publications/2012/Economic-Roundup-Issue-3/Report/Considering-future-generations-8212-sustainability-in-theory-and-practice
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Treasury, Australian Government in its journal Economic Roundup.

    Volume (Year): (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 (October)
    Pages: 65-91

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    Handle: RePEc:tsy:journl:journl_tsy_er_2012_3_3

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    Related research

    Keywords: intergenerational equity; uncertainty.;

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    1. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
    2. Solow, Robert M, 1986. " On the Intergenerational Allocation of Natural Resources," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 141-49.
    3. Geir Asheim & Wolfgang Buchholz & Cees Withagen, 2003. "The Hartwick Rule: Myths and Facts," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(2), pages 129-150, June.
    4. Asheim, Geir B. & Mitra, Tapan, 2010. "Sustainability and discounted utilitarianism in models of economic growth," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 148-169, March.
    5. Kenneth J. Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Lawrence H. Goulder & Kevin J. Mumford & Kirsten Oleson, 2010. "Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth," NBER Working Papers 16599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Zuber, Stéphane & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Justifying social discounting: The rank-discounted utilitarian approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1572-1601.
    8. Martin Parkinson, 2011. "Sustainable Wellbeing - An Economic Future for Australia," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 11-17, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    9. Partha Dasgupta & Eric Maskin, 2005. "Uncertainty and Hyperbolic Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1290-1299, September.
    10. John Creedy & Ross Guest, 2008. "Discounting and the Time Preference Rate," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(264), pages 109-127, 03.
    11. Withagen, Cees & Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang, 2003. "On the sustainable program in Solow's model," Memorandum 33/2002, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    12. Graciela Chichilnisky, 1997. "What Is Sustainable Development?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(4), pages 467-491.
    13. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
    14. n/a, 2010. "Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth," NIESR Discussion Papers 2856, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    15. Neumayer, Eric, 1999. "Global warming: discounting is not the issue, but substitutability is," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 33-43, January.
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