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Accounting for Sustainability: A Dissenting Opinion

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  • Robert D. Cairns

    () (Department of Economics, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal QC H3A 2T7, Canada)

Abstract

Discounted-utilitarian welfare, the commonest social objective studied by economists, is the basis for the theory of green accounting in terms of social utility. Sustainability is a different type of social objective. Consequently, green accounting as derived in many empirical models is not appropriate for studying sustainability. Maximin is a consistent foundation for the analysis of sustainability, both weak and strong, that provides conceptually correct accounting prices. These prices are not yet practicable for real economies, however, and must await further advances. Sustainable development is a generalization of the notion of sustainability and can be analyzed using a generalization of maximin.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert D. Cairns, 2011. "Accounting for Sustainability: A Dissenting Opinion," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(9), pages 1-16, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:9:p:1341-1356:d:13757
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert D. Cairns & Stellio Del Campo & Vincent Martinet, 2016. "Sustainability of an economy relying on two reproducible assets," Working Papers 2016/03, INRA, Economie Publique.
    2. Marc A. Rosen, 2013. "Engineering and Sustainability: Attitudes and Actions," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-15, January.
    3. Fabio Zagonari, 2016. "Four Sustainability Paradigms for Environmental Management: A Methodological Analysis and an Empirical Study Based on 30 Italian Industries," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-34, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sustainability; sustainable development; present value; welfare; maximin; green accounting;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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