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(Local) environmental quality versus (global) ecological carrying capacity: what might alternative aggregated indicators bring to the debates about environmental Kuznets curves and sustainable development?


  • Aurelien Boutaud
  • Natacha Gondran
  • Christian Brodhag


The Environmental Kuznets Curves (EKC) hypothesis suggests that the environmental impacts of a population increase in the early stages of its development, and decline once a certain level of income is attained. After examining different criticisms that can be addressed to studies that validate this hypothesis (environmental data which concern mostly restricted and/or local phenomenon, development indicators which offer a too limited vision of human development), this paper proposes a representation that confronts two aggregated indicators: ecological footprint and human development index. This confrontation contradicts the EKC hypothesis. Different visions concerning the meaning of the term environment (local environmental quality versus global ecological carrying capacity) might partially explain our conclusions and reveals a pernicious phenomenon. While developed nations tend to improve the quality of their 'local' environment, they also tend to consume more and more 'global' resources, which might often come from developing nations.

Suggested Citation

  • Aurelien Boutaud & Natacha Gondran & Christian Brodhag, 2006. "(Local) environmental quality versus (global) ecological carrying capacity: what might alternative aggregated indicators bring to the debates about environmental Kuznets curves and sustainable develop," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 9(3), pages 297-310.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijsusd:v:9:y:2006:i:3:p:297-310

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gene M. Grossman & Alan B. Krueger, 1995. "Economic Growth and the Environment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 353-377.
    2. Jha, Raghbendra & Murthy, K. V. Bhanu, 2003. "An inverse global environmental Kuznets curve," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 352-368, June.
    3. Annegrete Bruvoll & Hege Medin, 2003. "Factors Behind the Environmental Kuznets Curve. A Decomposition of the Changes in Air Pollution," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 24(1), pages 27-48, January.
    4. Andreoni, James & Levinson, Arik, 2001. "The simple analytics of the environmental Kuznets curve," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 269-286, May.
    5. Dinda, Soumyananda, 2004. "Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis: A Survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 431-455, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ji, Junping, 2009. "基于生态足迹及hdi的城市地区可持续发展动态评价
      [Dynamic Assessment of Urban Sustainable Development Based on Ecological Footprint Method and Human Development Index]
      ," MPRA Paper 59746, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mrabet, Zouhair & Alsamara, Mouyad, 2017. "Testing the Kuznets Curve hypothesis for Qatar: A comparison between carbon dioxide and ecological footprint," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1366-1375.


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