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The Aggregation Problem: Implications for Ecological and Biophysical Economics

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  • Blair Fix

    (York University)

Abstract

This article discusses the aggregation problem and its implications for ecological economics. The aggregation problem consists of a simple dilemma: when adding heterogeneous phenomena together, the observer must choose the unit of analysis. The dilemma is that this choice affects the resulting measurement. This means that aggregate measurements are dependent on one’s goals, and on the underlying theory. Using simple examples, this article shows how the aggregation problem complicates tasks such as calculating indexes of aggregate quantity, and how it undermines attempts to find a singular metric for complex issues such as sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Blair Fix, 2019. "The Aggregation Problem: Implications for Ecological and Biophysical Economics," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 1-15, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:bioerq:v:4:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s41247-018-0051-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s41247-018-0051-6
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    Cited by:

    1. Fix, Blair & Nitzan, Jonathan & Bichler, Shimshon, 2019. "Real GDP: The Flawed Metric at the Heart of Macroeconomics," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 51-59.
    2. Elen Presotto & Gabrielli Martinelli & Gabriela Allegretti & Edson Talamini, 2021. "Energy Efficiency, Monetary Costs, and Sustainability of Brazilian Rainfed and Irrigated Rice Cropping Systems," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 1-14, September.
    3. Reiner Kümmel & Dietmar Lindenberger, 2020. "Energy in Growth Accounting and the Aggregation of Capital and Output," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 1-10, March.
    4. Blair Fix, 2019. "Dematerialization Through Services: Evaluating the Evidence," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 1-17, June.

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