IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/cup/endeec/v17y2012i03p317-353_00.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Sustainability and the measurement of wealth

Author

Listed:
  • Arrow, Kenneth J.
  • Dasgupta, Partha
  • Goulder, Lawrence H.
  • Mumford, Kevin J.
  • Oleson, Kirsten

Abstract

We develop and apply a consistent and comprehensive theoretical framework for assessing whether economic growth is compatible with sustaining wellbeing over time. Our approach differs from earlier approaches by concentrating on wealth rather than income. Sustainability is demonstrated by showing that a properly defined comprehensive measure of wealth is maintained through time. Our wealth measure is unusually comprehensive, capturing not only reproducible and human capital but also natural capital, health improvements and technological change. We apply the framework to five countries: the United States, China, Brazil, India and Venezuela. We show that the often-neglected contributors to wealth – technological change, natural capital and health capital – fundamentally affect the conclusions one draws about whether given nations are achieving sustainability. Indeed, even countries that display sustainability differ considerably in the kinds of capital that contribute to it.

Suggested Citation

  • Arrow, Kenneth J. & Dasgupta, Partha & Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mumford, Kevin J. & Oleson, Kirsten, 2012. "Sustainability and the measurement of wealth," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(03), pages 317-353, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:17:y:2012:i:03:p:317-353_00
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S1355770X12000137
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. מחקר - ביטוח לאומי, 2006. "Annual Survey 2005," Working Papers 15, National Insurance Institute of Israel.
    2. Hamilton, Kirk & Clemens, Michael, 1999. "Genuine Savings Rates in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 333-356, May.
    3. 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, March.
    4. Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Lawrence Goulder & Gretchen Daily & Paul Ehrlich & Geoffrey Heal & Simon Levin & Karl-Göran Mäler & Stephen Schneider & David Starrett & Brian Walker, 2004. "Are We Consuming Too Much?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 147-172, Summer.
    5. Richard S. J. Tol, 2009. "The Economic Effects of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 29-51, Spring.
    6. Dasgupta, Partha, 2001. "Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247882.
    7. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2007. "The external wealth of nations mark II: Revised and extended estimates of foreign assets and liabilities, 1970-2004," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 223-250, November.
    8. repec:reg:rpubli:132 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Hamilton, Kirk, 1994. "Green adjustments to GDP," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 155-168, September.
    10. William D. Nordhaus, 2002. "The Health of Nations: The Contribution of Improved Health to Living Standards," NBER Working Papers 8818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Pearce, David W. & Atkinson, Giles D., 1993. "Capital theory and the measurement of sustainable development: an indicator of "weak" sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 103-108, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D69 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Other
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development
    • Q39 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Other

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:17:y:2012:i:03:p:317-353_00. 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: (Keith Waters). General contact details of provider: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_EDE .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.