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The Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) for a Local Authority: A Case Study in Italy

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  • Federico Maria Pulselli
  • Francesca Ciampalini
  • Enzo Tiezzi
  • Carlo Zappia

    ()

Abstract

The Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) has been calculated for many countries, but rarely at the local level. This paper shows how the index has been calculated for the Province of Siena, Central Italy. The whole procedure is illustrated step by step, including the search for the most suitable and precise methods to obtain reliable values for each item composing the index. Application of ISEW at a very local level was found to be feasible. The most general difficulty encountered was the lack of an adequate institutionalised source of statistical information to support the construction of indicators other than purely economic or demographic ones. The availability of data depends on the interest in implementing projects of sustainable management of natural resources and land on the part of local authorities and their consequent willingness to invest money and human resources on such projects. The ISEW is a good tool for local environmental policy, because it gives a more realistic representation of the well-being of the population than GDP, since it includes environmental and social items not considered in conventional national accounting. Furthermore, in Italy, the principle of administrative decentralization has been implemented in recent years to such an extent that the central government devolved part of its power to Regions, Provinces and Municipalities. Arguably, local authorities should therefore allocate more resources to pursue their policies towards sustainability, an issue which modern electoral campaigns are often based on. The results for the Province of Siena show that there is a large gap between local GDP and ISEW (about 37% of GDP).

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 449.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:449

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Keywords: Local level; economic welfare; sustainability; ISEW; economic policy;

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References

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  1. William D. Nordhaus & James Tobin, 1972. "Is Growth Obsolete?," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Research: Retrospect and Prospect Vol 5: Economic Growth, pages 1-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • William D. Nordhaus & James Tobin, 1973. "Is Growth Obsolete?," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Economic and Social Performance, pages 509-564 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lawn, Philip A., 2003. "A theoretical foundation to support the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), and other related indexes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 105-118, February.
  3. Castaneda, Beatriz E., 1999. "An index of sustainable economic welfare (ISEW) for Chile," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 231-244, February.
  4. Daly, Herman E., 1990. "Toward some operational principles of sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-6, April.
  5. Costanza, Robert & Erickson, Jon & Fligger, Karen & Adams, Alan & Adams, Christian & Altschuler, Ben & Balter, Stephanie & Fisher, Brendan & Hike, Jessica & Kelly, Joe, 2004. "Estimates of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) for Vermont, Chittenden County and Burlington, from 1950 to 2000," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 139-155, November.
  6. England, Richard W., 1998. "Measurement of social well-being: alternatives to gross domestic product," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 89-103, April.
  7. Sebastian Gil & Jerzy Sleszynski, 2003. "An index of sustainable economic welfare for Poland," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(1), pages 47-55.
  8. Neumayer, Eric, 2000. "On the methodology of ISEW, GPI and related measures: some constructive suggestions and some doubt on the 'threshold' hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 347-361, September.
  9. Lawn, Philip A. & Sanders, Richard D., 1999. "Has Australia surpassed its optimal macroeconomic scale? Finding out with the aid of 'benefit' and 'cost' accounts and a sustainable net benefit index," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 213-229, February.
  10. Max-Neef, Manfred, 1995. "Economic growth and quality of life: a threshold hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 115-118, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Posner, Stephen M. & Costanza, Robert, 2011. "A summary of ISEW and GPI studies at multiple scales and new estimates for Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1972-1980, September.
  2. G. Madonia & M. Cracolici & M. Cuffaro, 2013. "Exploring Wider Well-Being in the EU-15 Countries: An Empirical Application of the Stiglitz Report," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 117-140, March.
  3. Gabriella Berloffa & Francesca Modena, 2010. "Economic well-being in Italy: The role of income insecurity and intergenerational inequality," Working Papers 168, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  4. Maria Francesca Cracolici & Miranda Cuffaro & Peter Nijkamp, 2008. "Analysis of Spatial Disparities by a Structural Equations Model," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-058/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Pulselli, Federico M. & Bravi, Mirko & Tiezzi, Enzo, 2012. "Application and use of the ISEW for assessing the sustainability of a regional system: A case study in Italy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 766-778.
  6. Maria Cracolici & Miranda Cuffaro & Peter Nijkamp, 2010. "The Measurement of Economic, Social and Environmental Performance of Countries: A Novel Approach," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 339-356, January.
  7. repec:dgr:uvatin:2008058 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Brent Bleys, 2013. "The Regional Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare for Flanders, Belgium," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(2), pages 496-523, February.

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