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Progress along the path: evolving issues in the measurement of genuine saving

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  • Giles Atkinson

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  • Kirk Hamilton

Abstract

More than 10 years since a practical linkage between sustainable development and a measure of national wealth—expanded to include natural and environmental resources—was first posited, the empirical estimation of adjusted net savings, dubbed ‘genuine’ saving, has evolved considerably. In this paper we take stock of both progress achieved and the challenges that remain. We begin by recalling the key points made in Pearce and Atkinson (1993, Ecol Econ 8, 103), which presented the first cross-country estimates of savings rates adjusted to reflect depletion and degradation of the environment. We then briefly summarise the evolution of the theoretical argument linking savings and sustainability. However, the main focus of this paper is an aspect that concerned David Pearce greatly, namely the evolution of the measurement of genuine savings. We identify and consider the empirical evidence with regard to two particular measurement issues: the valuation of exhaustible resources and environmental degradation. Common to the both issues are concerns about measuring changes in national wealth in real world economies. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Suggested Citation

  • Giles Atkinson & Kirk Hamilton, 2007. "Progress along the path: evolving issues in the measurement of genuine saving," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 43-61, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:37:y:2007:i:1:p:43-61 DOI: 10.1007/s10640-007-9114-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John C. V. Pezzey & Nick Hanley & Nick Hanley & Karen Turner & Dugald Tinch, 2003. "Augmented Sustainability Measures for Scotland," Economics and Environment Network Working Papers 0302, Australian National University, Economics and Environment Network.
    2. Hamilton, Kirk & Clemens, Michael, 1999. "Genuine Savings Rates in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 333-356, May.
    3. Davis, Graham A. & Moore, David J., 2000. "Valuing mineral stocks and depletion in green national income accounts," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 109-127, February.
    4. Kirk Hamilton & John Hartwick, 2005. "Investing exhaustible resource rents and the path of consumption," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 615-621, May.
    5. Martin L. Weitzman, 1976. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
    6. Stephen Smith & Joseph Swierzbinski, 2007. "Assessing the performance of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 131-158, May.
    7. World Bank, 2005. "World Development Indicators 2005," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 12426.
    8. Asheim, Geir B. & Weitzman, Martin L., 2001. "Does NNP growth indicate welfare improvement?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 233-239, November.
    9. Thomas Eichner & Rüdiger Pethig, 2007. "Harvesting in an integrated general equilibrium model," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 233-252, May.
    10. Hamilton, Kirk & Atkinson, Giles, 1996. "Air pollution and green accounts," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 675-684, July.
    11. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-974, December.
    12. repec:wbk:wbpubs:12425 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Dasgupta, Partha & M Ler, Karl-G Ran, 2000. "Net national product, wealth, and social well-being," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 69-93, February.
    14. Hamilton, Kirk, 1994. "Green adjustments to GDP," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 155-168, September.
    15. Vincent, Jeffrey R., 1997. "Resource depletion and economic sustainability in Malaysia," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 19-37, February.
    16. Karl-Göran Mäler, 1991. "National accounts and environmental resources," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 1(1), pages 1-15, March.
    17. Ferreira, Susana & Vincent, Jeffrey R, 2005. "Genuine Savings: Leading Indicator of Sustainable Development?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 737-754, April.
    18. Kirk Hamilton & Cees Withagen, 2007. "Savings growth and the path of utility," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 703-713, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kirk Hamilton & Giovanni Ruta, 2009. "Wealth Accounting, Exhaustible Resources and Social Welfare," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 42(1), pages 53-64, January.
    2. Lázaro-Touza, Lara & Atkinson, Giles, 2013. "Nature, roads or hospitals? An empirical evaluation of ‘sustainable development preferences’," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 63-72.
    3. Jean-Philippe Barde, 2007. "Harnessing the political economy of environmental policy: David Pearce’s contribution to OECD," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 33-42, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Genuine saving; Sustainability; Subsoil assets; User cost; Environmental degradation; Q01; Q32; Q53; Q56;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • 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

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