IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article

Are We Consuming Too Much?

  • Kenneth Arrow
  • Partha Dasgupta
  • Lawrence Goulder
  • Gretchen Daily
  • Paul Ehrlich
  • Geoffrey Heal
  • Simon Levin
  • Karl-Göran Mäler
  • Stephen Schneider
  • David Starrett
  • Brian Walker

This paper articulates and applies frameworks for examining whether consumption is excessive. We consider two criteria for the possible excessiveness (or insufficiency) of current consumption. One is an intertemporal utility-maximization criterion: actual current consumption is deemed excessive if it is higher than the level of current consumption on the consumption path that maximizes the present discounted value of utility. The other is a sustainability criterion, which requires that current consumption be consistent with non-declining living standards over time. We extend previous theoretical approaches by offering a formula for the sustainability criterion that accounts for population growth and technological change. In applying this formula, we find that some poor regions of the world are failing to meet the sustainability criterion: in these regions, genuine wealth per capita is falling as investments in human and manufactured capital are not sufficient to offset the depletion of natural capital.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0895330042162377
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 18 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 147-172

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:18:y:2004:i:3:p:147-172
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0895330042162377
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Geir B. Asheim, 2003. "Green national accounting for welfare and sustainability:A Taxonomy Of Assumptions And Results," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 50(2), pages 113-130, 05.
  2. Michael D. Mastrandrea & Stephen H. Schneider, 2001. "Integrated assessment of abrupt climatic changes," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(4), pages 433-449, December.
  3. Pearce, David & Hamilton, Kirk & Atkinson, Giles, 1996. "Measuring sustainable development: progress on indicators," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 85-101, February.
  4. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert T. Deacon & Henning Bohn, 2000. "Ownership Risk, Investment, and the Use of Natural Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 526-549, June.
  6. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Global Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 851-74, September.
  7. Howarth, Richard B., 1996. "Status effects and environmental externalities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 25-34, January.
  8. Kenneth J. Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Karl-Göran Mäler, 2003. "The genuine savings criterion and the value of population," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 21(2), pages 217-225, 03.
  9. Cooper, Ben & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Funk, Peter, 2001. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 642-65, July.
  10. Pezzey, J., 1992. "Sustainable Development Concepts; An Economic Analysis," Papers 2, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
  11. Stephen A. Marglin, 1963. "The Social Rate of Discount and The Optimal Rate of Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 95-111.
  12. W.A. Brock & D. Starrett, 2003. "Managing Systems with Non-convex Positive Feedback," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(4), pages 575-602, December.
  13. Asheim, Geir B, 1994. " Net National Product as an Indicator of Sustainability," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(2), pages 257-65.
  14. D. Gale Johnson, 2000. "Population, Food, and Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 1-14, March.
  15. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  16. Susan M. Collins & Barry P. Bosworth, 1996. "Economic Growth in East Asia: Accumulation versus Assimilation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 135-204.
  17. Dasgupta, Partha, 1990. "The Environment as a Commodity," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 51-67, Spring.
  18. Dasgupta, P., 1990. "The Environment as Commodity.i," Research Paper 84, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
  19. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. "Relative-Income Effects and the Appropriate Level of Public Expenditure," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 293-300, June.
  20. Dasgupta, Partha & M Ler, Karl-G Ran, 2000. "Net national product, wealth, and social well-being," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 69-93, February.
  21. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
  22. D. Gale Johnson, 2001. "On Population and Resources: A Comment," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(4), pages 739-747.
  23. Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Karl-Göran Mäler, 2003. "Evaluating Projects and Assessing Sustainable Development in Imperfect Economies," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(4), pages 647-685, December.
  24. Solow, Robert M, 1974. "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 1-14, May.
  25. Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  26. Amartya K. Sen, 1967. "Isolation, Assurance and the Social Rate of Discount," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 112-124.
  27. repec:reg:rpubli:132 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Hamilton, Kirk & Clemens, Michael, 1999. "Genuine Savings Rates in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 333-56, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:18:y:2004:i:3:p:147-172. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.