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How substitutable is natural capital?

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  • Anil Markandya

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  • Suzette Pedroso-Galinato

Abstract

One of the recurring themes in the sustainability literature has been the extent to which a loss of natural capital can be made up for in welfare terms by an increase in other forms of capital. This issue was raised early on in the debate on sustainability by Pearce and has never really been resolved. This paper is an empirical attempt to measure the degree of substitutability between different forms of capital. A nested CES production function is used to allow flexibility in the estimated elasticities of substitution. Also, within this specification, natural resources and other inputs are combined in different levels of the function, thus allowing for different levels of substitutability. Institutional and economic indicators are also incorporated in the production function estimated. Results show that the elasticities derived from functions involving land resources were generally around one or greater, implying a fairly high degree of substitutability. Furthermore, changes in trade openness and private sector investment have a statistically significant and direct relationship on the efficiency of production and hence on income generation. No statistically significant relationship between income and any of the institutional indicators was found. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Anil Markandya & Suzette Pedroso-Galinato, 2007. "How substitutable is natural capital?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 297-312, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:37:y:2007:i:1:p:297-312
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-007-9117-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kemfert, Claudia, 1998. "Estimated substitution elasticities of a nested CES production function approach for Germany," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 249-264, June.
    2. Geir Asheim & Wolfgang Buchholz & Cees Withagen, 2003. "The Hartwick Rule: Myths and Facts," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 25(2), pages 129-150, June.
    3. Chang, Kuo-Ping, 1994. "Capital-energy substitution and the multi-level CES production function," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 22-26, January.
    4. Gasper A. Garofalo & Devinder M. Malhotra, 1988. "Aggregation of Capital and Its Substitution with Energy," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 251-262, Jul-Sep.
    5. Anderson, Kent P., 1972. "Optimal growth when the stock of resources is finite and depletable," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 256-267, April.
    6. Mitra, Tapan, 1978. "Efficient growth with exhaustible resources in a neoclassical model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 114-129, February.
    7. Griffin, James M & Gregory, Paul R, 1976. "An Intercountry Translog Model of Energy Substitution Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 845-857, December.
    8. Prywes, Menahem, 1986. "A nested CES approach to capital-energy substitution," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 22-28, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Natural resources; Nested CES production function; Wealth accounting; O47; Q24; Q32;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development

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