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Testing genuine savings as a forward-looking indicator of future well-being over the (very) long-run

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  • Greasley, David
  • Hanley, Nick
  • Kunnas, Jan
  • McLaughlin, Eoin
  • Oxley, Les
  • Warde, Paul

Abstract

Genuine Savings (GS) have been much used in recent years as an indicator of a country's sustainability. According to some theorists (e.g. Arrow et al., 2012), under certain conditions a country with a positive level of GS should experience non-declining future utility, given the assumption of unlimited substitutability among all forms of capital (sometimes called “weak” sustainability). This paper reports the first very long-run tests of GS (also called comprehensive investment or adjusted net savings) as a forward-looking indicator of future well-being. We assemble data for British capital back to 1765, and construct several net investment measures which are used as indicators of two alternative measures of future well-being: consumption per capita and real wages. An allowance for a “value of time” due to exogenous technological progress is included in some GS measures, and we demonstrate the importance of this measure and the choice of discount rate over the very long-run. On the whole, our results do not reject the postulated relationship between GS and future well-being, and show GS can be a forward looking indicator of future well-being for periods of up to 100 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Greasley, David & Hanley, Nick & Kunnas, Jan & McLaughlin, Eoin & Oxley, Les & Warde, Paul, 2014. "Testing genuine savings as a forward-looking indicator of future well-being over the (very) long-run," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 171-188.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:67:y:2014:i:2:p:171-188
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2013.12.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nick Hanley & Les Oxley & David Greasley & Eoin McLaughlin & Matthias Blum, 2016. "Empirical Testing of Genuine Savings as an Indicator of Weak Sustainability: A Three-Country Analysis of Long-Run Trends," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 63(2), pages 313-338, February.
    2. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2014. "Genuine Saving and Conspicuous Consumption," Umeå Economic Studies 900, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    3. Nick Hanley & Louis Dupuy & Eoin McLaughlin, 2015. "Genuine Savings And Sustainability," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 779-806, September.
    4. Matthias Blum & Cristián Ducoing & Eoin McLaughlin, 2016. "Genuine Savings in developing and developed countries, 1900-2000," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2016-15, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    5. McGrath, Luke & Hynes, Stephen & McHale, John, 2019. "Augmenting the World Bank's estimates: Ireland's genuine savings through boom and bust," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 1-1.
    6. Louis Dupuy, 2015. "International Trade and Structural Change: a Dynamic Model of Weak Sustainability," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2015-12, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    7. David Greasley & Jakob B. Madsen, 2017. "The Rise and Fall of Exceptional Australian Incomes Since 1800," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 57(3), pages 264-290, November.
    8. Greasley, David & McLaughlin, Eoin & Hanley, Nick & Oxley, Les, 2017. "Australia: a land of missed opportunities?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(6), pages 674-698, December.
    9. repec:pal:easeco:v:43:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1057_s41302-016-0013-x is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Koji Tokimatsu & Louis Dupuy & Nick Hanley, 2019. "Using Genuine Savings for Climate Policy Evaluation with an Integrated Assessment Model," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 72(1), pages 281-307, January.
    11. Blum, Matthias & Hanley, Nicholas & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2013. "Genuine savings and future well-being in Germany, 1850-2000," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2013-13, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
    12. Matthias Blum & Eoin McLaughlin & Nick Hanley, 2014. "Accounting for Sustainable Development over the Long-Run:Lessons from Germany," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2014-10, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    13. Mota, Rui Pedro & Cunha-e-Sá, Maria A., 2019. "The Role of Technological Progress in Testing Adjusted Net Savings: Evidence from OECD Countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 1-1.
    14. Mubashir Qasim, 2019. "Sustainability and Wellbeing: A Text Analysis of New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Official Yearbooks and Ministerial Documents," Working Papers in Economics 19/01, University of Waikato.

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