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Considering future generations - sustainability in theory and practice


  • Christine Carmody

    (Treasury, Government of Australia)


The concept of sustainability has become increasingly popular in international and domestic debate on social progress; it is also a key dimension of the Treasury wellbeing framework. However, confusion surrounds the concept, its measurement and its application in decision-making. Defined as maintaining or increasing wellbeing between generations, sustainability requires a focus on aggregate stocks of capital. Key features of the sustainability problem are uncertainty about the future, thresholds and substitutability between capital stocks. It is these issues, rather than theoretical paradigms, that are of practical importance to decision-makers.

Suggested Citation

  • Christine Carmody, 2012. "Considering future generations - sustainability in theory and practice," Economic Roundup, The Treasury, Australian Government, issue 3, pages 65-91, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tsy:journl:journl_tsy_er_2012_3_3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arrow, Kenneth J. & Dasgupta, Partha & Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mumford, Kevin J. & Oleson, Kirsten, 2012. "Sustainability and the measurement of wealth," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(03), pages 317-353, June.
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    More about this item


    intergenerational equity; uncertainty.;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


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