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Empiricism in ecological economics: a perspective from complex systems theory

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  • Jesús Ramos Martín

    (Departament d'Economia i d'Història Econòmica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Abstract

Economies are open complex adaptive systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium, and neo-classical environmental economics seems not to be the best way to describe the behaviour of such systems. Standard econometric analysis (i.e. time series) takes a deterministic and predictive approach, which encourages the search for predictive policy to ‘correct’ environmental problems. Rather, it seems that, because of the characteristics of economic systems, an ex-post analysis is more appropriate, which describes the emergence of such systems’ properties, and which sees policy as a social steering mechanism. With this background, some of the recent empirical work published in the field of ecological economics that follows the approach defended here is presented. Finally, the conclusion is reached that a predictive use of econometrics (i.e. time series analysis) in ecological economics should be limited to cases in which uncertainty decreases, which is not the normal situation when analysing the evolution of economic systems. However, that does not mean we should not use empirical analysis. On the contrary, this is to be encouraged, but from a structural and ex-post point of view.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica in its series UHE Working papers with number 2003_03.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: May 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:uhewps:2003_03

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Keywords: Ecological economics; neo-classical environmental economics; empiricism; predictive analysis; complexity; post-normal science; policy.;

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References

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  1. Suri, Vivek & Chapman, Duane, 1998. "Economic growth, trade and energy: implications for the environmental Kuznets curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 195-208, May.
  2. de Bruyn, S. M. & Opschoor, J. B., 1997. "Developments in the throughput-income relationship: theoretical and empirical observations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 255-268, March.
  3. Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 2003. "The microfoundations of macroeconomics: an evolutionary perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 65-84, January.
  4. Rothman, Dale S., 1998. "Environmental Kuznets curves--real progress or passing the buck?: A case for consumption-based approaches," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 177-194, May.
  5. Funtowicz, Silvio O. & Ravetz, Jerome R., 1994. "The worth of a songbird: ecological economics as a post-normal science," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 197-207, August.
  6. Prigogine, Ilya, 1987. "Exploring complexity," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 97-103, June.
  7. Heckman, James J., 2001. "Econometrics and empirical economics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 3-5, January.
  8. Rosen, Robert, 1987. "On complex systems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 129-134, June.
  9. Jackson, Tim & Marks, Nic, 1999. "Consumption, sustainable welfare and human needs--with reference to UK expenditure patterns between 1954 and 1994," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 421-441, March.
  10. Boulding, Kenneth E., 1987. "The epistemology of complex systems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 110-116, June.
  11. Unruh, G. C. & Moomaw, W. R., 1998. "An alternative analysis of apparent EKC-type transitions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 221-229, May.
  12. Martinez-Alier, Joan & Munda, Giuseppe & O'Neill, John, 1998. "Weak comparability of values as a foundation for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 277-286, September.
  13. Perrings, Charles & Walker, Brian, 1997. "Biodiversity, resilience and the control of ecological-economic systems: the case of fire-driven rangelands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 73-83, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Salvador Pueyo, 2014. "Ecological Econophysics for Degrowth," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 3431-3483, May.
  2. Antonio Lopolito & Maurizio Prosperi & Roberta Sisto, 2009. "Socio-Economic Implications Of The Development Of A Bio-Refinery: An Analysis With Fuzzy Cognitive Maps," Quaderni DSEMS, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Matematiche e Statistiche, Universita' di Foggia 19-2009, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Matematiche e Statistiche, Universita' di Foggia.
  3. Kozo Mayumi & Mario Giampietro & Jesus Ramos-Martin, 2011. "Reconsideration of Dimensions and Curve Fitting Practice in Economics Elaborating on Georgescu-Roegen’s Economic Methodology," UHE Working papers, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica 2011_05, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
  4. Kozo Mayumi & Mario Giampietro & Jesus Ramos-Martin, 2012. "Reconsideration of Dimensions and Curve Fitting Practice in View of Georgescu-Roegen’s Epistemology in Economics," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(4), pages 17-35, December.
  5. Evan D. Fraser, 2006. "Crop diversification and trade liberalization: Linking global trade and local management through a regional case study," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 271-281, October.
  6. Schiller, Frank, 2009. "Linking material and energy flow analyses and social theory," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1676-1686, April.
  7. Bazilian, Morgan & Rogner, Holger & Howells, Mark & Hermann, Sebastian & Arent, Douglas & Gielen, Dolf & Steduto, Pasquale & Mueller, Alexander & Komor, Paul & Tol, Richard S.J. & Yumkella, Kandeh K., 2011. "Considering the energy, water and food nexus: Towards an integrated modelling approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7896-7906.
  8. Jiřina Jílková & Lenka Slavíková, 2009. "Economics of the Environmental Protection on the Crossroad," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2009(5), pages 660-676.
  9. Castro e Silva, Manuela & Teixeira, Aurora A.C., 2011. "A bibliometric account of the evolution of EE in the last two decades: Is ecological economics (becoming) a post-normal science?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 849-862, March.

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