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On the relationship between scale, allocation, and distribution


  • Malghan, Deepak


We develop a formal framework to investigate the relationship between ecological economics' concept of scale, and the more traditional concerns of allocation, and distribution. The framework presented here helps clarify differences between the normative and positive aspects of scale, allocation, and distribution. In particular, we distinguish between 'normative rules' and 'normative benchmarks'. This distinction helps untangle the web of hierarchical and evolutionary relationships that connect scale, allocation, and distribution. We also introduce concepts of scale efficiency and distribution efficiency as counterparts to the widely used allocation efficiency, and develop a simple dynamic model relating these three efficiencies. We then present stylized facts about the relationship between scale, allocation, and distribution that this model helps uncover.

Suggested Citation

  • Malghan, Deepak, 2010. "On the relationship between scale, allocation, and distribution," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2261-2270, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:11:p:2261-2270

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacobson, Arne & Milman, Anita D. & Kammen, Daniel M., 2005. "Letting the (energy) Gini out of the bottle: Lorenz curves of cumulative electricity consumption and Gini coefficients as metrics of energy distribution and equity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(14), pages 1825-1832, September.
    2. Daly, Herman E., 1992. "Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 185-193, December.
    3. Prakash, Aseem & Gupta, Anil K., 1994. "Are efficiency, equity, and scale independent?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 89-90, July.
    4. Gastwirth, Joseph L & Glauberman, Marcia, 1976. "The Interpolation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index from Grouped Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(3), pages 479-483, May.
    5. Gibson, Clark C. & Ostrom, Elinor & Ahn, T. K., 2000. "The concept of scale and the human dimensions of global change: a survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 217-239, February.
    6. 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.
    7. Howarth, Richard B & Norgaard, Richard B, 1992. "Environmental Valuation under Sustainable Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 473-477, May.
    8. Daly, Herman E., 1994. "Reply," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 90-91, July.
    9. Kakwani, Nanak C, 1977. "Applications of Lorenz Curves in Economic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(3), pages 719-727, April.
    10. Herman E. Daly, 1991. "Towards an Environmental Macroeconomics," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 67(2), pages 255-259.
    11. Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Ecosystem services: From eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1219-1227, April.
    12. Philip Lawn, 2004. "A comment on the independence of allocation, distribution and scale," International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 4(4), pages 298-303.
    13. Lawn, Philip A., 2001. "Scale, prices, and biophysical assessments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 369-382, September.
    14. Jordan, Geraldine J. & Fortin, Marie-Josee, 2002. "Scale and topology in the ecological economics sustainability paradigm," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 361-366, May.
    15. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    16. Dasgupta, Partha & Sen, Amartya & Starrett, David, 1973. "Notes on the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 180-187, April.
    17. Gastwirth, Joseph L, 1972. "The Estimation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(3), pages 306-316, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan M. Harris, 2016. "Population, resources and energy in the global economy: a vindication of Herman Daly’s vision," Chapters,in: Beyond Uneconomic Growth, chapter 4, pages 65-82 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. repec:bla:srbeha:v:34:y:2017:i:5:p:637-642 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9860-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pirgmaier, Elke, 2017. "The Neoclassical Trojan Horse of Steady-State Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 52-61.
    5. Tiziano Distefano & Guido Chiarotti & Francesco Laio & Luca Ridolfi, 2018. "Spatial distribution of the international food prices: unexpected randomness and heterogeneity," SEEDS Working Papers 0118, SEEDS, Sustainability Environmental Economics and Dynamics Studies, revised Jan 2018.


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