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Paradoxical consumption behavior when economic activity has environmental effects

  • Asheim, Geir B.

In a model where enhanced economic activity (accumulation of produced capital) leads to environmental effects (depletion of natural capital), competitive steady states corresponding to different discount rates are compared. For positive discount rates, the steady state stock of produced capital may exceed the size maximizing sustainable consumption. This implies paradoxical consumption behavior; that is, a lower discount rate may be associated with lower steady state consumption. The theoretical significance of this phenomenon for intergenerational equity is discussed, and examples indicating the empirical relevance of the underlying assumptions are presented.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 65 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3-4 (March)
Pages: 529-546

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:65:y:2008:i:3-4:p:529-546
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Becker, Robert A., 1982. "Intergenerational equity: The capital-environment trade-off," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 165-185, June.
  2. T. W. Swan, 1956. "ECONOMIC GROWTH and CAPITAL ACCUMULATION," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 334-361, November.
  3. Geir B. Asheim & Wolfgang Buchholz, 2000. "The Hartwick Rule: Myths and Facts," CESifo Working Paper Series 299, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Swan, Trevor W, 2002. "Economic Growth," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(243), pages 375-80, December.
  5. Asheim, Geir B. & Mitra, Tapan & Tungodden, Bertil, 2006. "Sustainable recursive social welfare functions," Memorandum 18/2006, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  6. John Hartwick, 1976. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," Working Papers 220, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Robinson, Joan, 1975. "The Unimportance of Reswitching," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 32-39, February.
  8. Burmeister, Edwin & Hammond, P J, 1977. "Maximin Paths of Heterogeneous Capital Accumulation and the Instability of Paradoxical Steady States," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(4), pages 853-70, May.
  9. Asheim, Geir B. & Weitzman, Martin L., 2001. "Does NNP growth indicate welfare improvement?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 233-239, November.
  10. Clark, Colin W & Clarke, Frank H & Munro, Gordon R, 1979. "The Optimal Exploitation of Renewable Resource Stocks: Problems of Irreversible Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 25-47, January.
  11. Dixit, Avinash & Hammond, Peter & Hoel, Michael, 1980. "On Hartwick's Rule for Regular Maximin Paths of Capital Accumulation and Resource Depletion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 551-56, April.
  12. Barkley Rosser, J. Jr., 1983. "Reswitching as a cusp catastrophe," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 182-193, October.
  13. Avi J. Cohen, 2003. "Retrospectives: Whatever Happened to the Cambridge Capital Theory Controversies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 199-214, Winter.
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