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Income and the Hamiltonian

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  • Usher, Dan

Abstract

Among the many interpretations of real national income are (1) the return to national wealth and (2) the Hamiltonian of an appropriately-chosen dynamic model of the economy. These interpretations are sometiems alleged to be equivalent and to constitute the self-evidently ideal definition to which statistics of real national income should conform as closely as possible., The allegation is correct on some very restrictive assumptions about technology and taste. Otherwise, these interpretations are inconsistent, inexpedient as definitions of real national income and significantly at variance with the usage in the national accounts. The return to wealth is unmeasurable with the currently-available data. The Hamiltonian is typically in the wrong units. It is an accurate reflection of neither productive capacity nor welfare in an intertemporal context. It is not well-defined in a tax-distorted economy. It is rarely an indicator of the return to wealth. Copyright 1994 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Usher, Dan, 1994. "Income and the Hamiltonian," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(2), pages 123-141, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:40:y:1994:i:2:p:123-41
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    Cited by:

    1. Harris, Michael, 2003. "Depreciation and Obsolescence in the Context of Natural Resource Accounting," 2003 Conference (47th), February 12-14, 2003, Fremantle, Australia 57886, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    2. Pezzey, John C.V., 2004. "Exact measures of income in a hyperbolic economy," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(04), pages 473-484, August.
    3. Pezzey, John C.V., 2001. "Exact Measures of Income in Two Capital-Resource Economies," 2001 Conference (45th), January 23-25, 2001, Adelaide 125834, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    4. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction, and Growth: Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 389-430.
    5. John C. V. Pezzey, 2001. "Exact measures of income in two capital-resource-time economies," Working Papers in Ecological Economics 0102, Australian National University, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Ecological Economics Program.
    6. Sefton, J. A. & Weale, M. R., 1996. "The net national product and exhaustible resources: The effects of foreign trade," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 21-47.
    7. Bram Edens, 2013. "Depletion: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 419-441.

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