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Quantitative versus qualitative growth with recyclable resource

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  • Fagnart, Jean-François
  • Germain, Marc

Abstract

We reassess the issue of limits to growth in an endogenous growth model of a decentralized economy where final productions require a recyclable essential material input. The model relies on technological assumptions consistent with the material balance principle and on an explicit distinction between the material content and the quality of the produced goods. Growth follows from research activities that allow firms to improve the quality of their output and to reduce the material resource intensiveness of their production process. Even though recycling is assumed perfect, we show that 1) the material balance constraint may affect the whole transitory dynamics of the growth process; 2) quantitative growth (i.e. positive growth of material output) can only be a transitory phenomenon, long term economic growth taking exclusively the form of perpetual improvements in the quality of final goods. A long term growth path is characterized by constant values of material variables (or in a less favourable scenario, by a constant negative growth rate of those variables). We establish the existence conditions of a growth path based on quality improvements and constant material variables. It may fail to exist in a decentralized framework even though it is feasible from a purely physical point of view.

Suggested Citation

  • Fagnart, Jean-François & Germain, Marc, 2011. "Quantitative versus qualitative growth with recyclable resource," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 929-941, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:5:p:929-941
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-François FAGNART & Marc GERMAIN & Alphonse MAGNUS, 2013. "Soutenabilité forte, rente et partage de la valeur ajoutée," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013021, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Fagnart, Jean-François & Germain, Marc, 2015. "Energy, complexity and sustainable long-term growth," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 87-93.
    3. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2013. "Resource Return on Investment under Markup Pricing," MPRA Paper 49154, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Raouf Boucekkine & Fouad El Ouardighi, 2015. "Optimal Growth with Polluting Waste and Recycling," Working Papers halshs-01126636, HAL.
    5. Georges BASTIN & Isabelle CASSIERS, 2013. "Modelling the balanced transition to a sustainable economy," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    6. Marc Germain, 2012. "Equilibres et effondrement dans le cadre d'un cycle naturel," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 55(4), pages 427-455.

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