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An axiomatic approach to sustainable development

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  • Graciela Chichilnisky

Abstract

The paper proposes two axioms that capture the idea of sustainable development and derives the welfare criterion that they imply. The axioms require that neither the present nor the future should play a dictatorial role. Theorem 1 shows there exist sustainable preferences, which satisfy these axioms. They exhibit sensitivity to the present and to the long-run future, and specify trade-offs between them. It examines other welfare criteria which are generally utilized: discounted utility, lim inf. long run averages, overtaking and catching-up criteria, Ramsey's criterion, Rawlsian rules, and the criterion of satisfaction of basic needs, and finds that none satisfies the axioms for sustainability. Theorem 2 gives a characterization of all continuous independent sustainable preferences. Theorem 3 shows that in general sustainable growth paths cannot be approximated by paths which approximate discounted optima. Proposition 1 shows that paths which maximize the present value under a standard price system may fail to reach optimal sustainable welfare levels, and Example 4 that the two criteria can give rise to different value systems.
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Suggested Citation

  • Graciela Chichilnisky, 1996. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 13(2), pages 231-257, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:13:y:1996:i:2:p:231-257
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00183353
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chichilnisky, Graciela & Kalman, P. J., 1979. "Application of functional analysis to models of efficient allocation of economic resources," MPRA Paper 8004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "North-South Trade and the Global Environment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 851-874, September.
    3. Graciela Chichilnisky, 1982. "Social Aggregation Rules and Continuity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(2), pages 337-352.
    4. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1963. "On the Concept of Optimal Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 163, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Graciela Chichilnisky, 1993. "On Strategic Control," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 285-290.
    6. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1993. "North-South trade and the dynamics of renewable resources," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 219-248, December.
    7. Asheim, Geir B., 1991. "Unjust intergenerational allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 350-371, August.
    8. Lauwers, Luc, 1993. "Infinite Chichilnisky rules," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 349-352.
    9. Chichilnisky Graciela & Heal Geoffrey M., 1993. "Competitive Equilibrium in Sobolev Spaces without Bounds on Short Sales," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 364-384, April.
    10. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1977. "Development patterns and the international order," MPRA Paper 7991, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1976. "Economic Development and Efficiency Criteria in the Satisfaction of Basic Needs," MPRA Paper 7980, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 14 Mar 1977.
    12. Dutta, Prajit K., 1991. "What do discounted optima converge to?: A theory of discount rate asymptotics in economic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 64-94, October.
    13. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1993. "The Cone Condition, Properness, and Extremely Desirable Commodities," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 3(1), pages 177-182, January.
    14. R. M. Solow, 1974. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustible Resources," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(5), pages 29-45.
    15. D. McFadden, 1967. "The Evaluation of Development Programmes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 25-50.
    16. Geir B. Asheim, 1988. "Rawlsian Intergenerational Justice as a Markov-Perfect Equilibrium in a Resource Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(3), pages 469-483.
    17. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1993. "The abatement of carbon emissions in industrial and developing countries," MPRA Paper 8390, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Chichilnisky, Graciela & Heal, Geoffrey & Beltratti, Andrea, 1995. "The Green Golden Rule," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 175-179, August.
    19. Dutta, P.K., 1991. "What Do Discounted Optima Converge To? A Theory of Discount Rate Asymptotics in Economic Models," RCER Working Papers 264, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    20. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1994. "Social Diversity, Arbitrage, and Gains from Trade: A Unified Perspective on Resource Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 427-434, May.
    21. Solow, Robert, 1993. "An almost practical step toward sustainability," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 162-172, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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