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Value and income

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  • Cairns, Robert D.

Abstract

This paper argues that income is a flow of value to society; therefore, an economic modeler's choice of a concept of value imposes a concept of income. The argument is used to distinguish three concepts of national income. (1) In a discounted-utilitarian model, which is usually the basis for theoretic discussions of net national income, the formulation of value imposes a concept of income that is not observable and hence does not provide income statistics. (2) In a perfectly competitive economy, national income is, in principle, observable. Study of the competitive model provides a theoretic foundation for national accounting, with extensions to distorted economies. However, two unobservable components of ideal income, consumers' surplus and capital gains, are perforce neglected. (3) A maximin program is the mathematical representation of another value, sustaining an economy. It employs a method of intertemporal valuation that does not involve discounting. Income is sustained value. Since a maximin program is not expressed for a distorted economy, there is no observable indicator of whether an economy is being sustained.

Suggested Citation

  • Cairns, Robert D., 2008. "Value and income," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 417-424, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:66:y:2008:i:2-3:p:417-424
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    1. Avinash Dixit & Peter Hammond & Michael Hoel, 1980. "On Hartwick's Rule for Regular Maximin Paths of Capital Accumulation and Resource Depletion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 551-556.
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    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:139:y:2017:i:c:p:140-149 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cairns, Robert D. & Calfucura, Enrique, 2012. "OPEC: Market failure or power failure?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 570-580.
    3. Bazhanov, Andrei V., 2015. "Inefficiency and sustainability," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 210-216.
    4. Doyen, L. & Martinet, V., 2012. "Maximin, viability and sustainability," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1414-1430.
    5. Alejandro Caparrós & José L. Oviedo & Alejandro Álvarez & Pablo Campos, 2015. "Simulated exchange values and ecosystem accounting," Working Papers 1512, Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP), CSIC.
    6. Jose L. Oviedo & Pablo Campos & Alejandro Caparrós, 2010. "Simulated Exchange Value Method: Applying Green National Accounting to Forest Public Recreation," Working Papers 1016, Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP), CSIC.

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