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National account measures and sustainability objectives: present approaches and future prospects

  • Matthew Clarke

    (School of Social Science and Planning, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia)

  • Sardar M. N. Islam

    (Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Victoria, Australia)

Registered author(s):

    A dominant objective within the public policies of all SE Asian countries has been the achievement of economic growth. The issue of sustainability has serious implications for this policy objective. Pursuit of economic growth is concerned solely with the present, whilst sustainability is concerned with ensuring the current generation meets its present needs without threatening future generations' ability to do likewise. National accounts, such as gross domestic product, can measure healthy economies, but they can not measure sustainability. This paper, however, sets out a conceptual approach that describes the misalignment of national accounting measures with sustainability objectives and provides empirical evidence of how this misalignment can be partially overcome. An empirical approach is developed whereby certain adjustments to national accounts, based on normative social choice theory, are introduced to indicate how a partial measure of sustainability can be determined using national accounting aggregates as a base. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/sd.264
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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Sustainable Development.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 219-233

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:14:y:2006:i:4:p:219-233
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1099-1719

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    1. William D. Nordhaus & James Tobin, 1973. "Is Growth Obsolete?," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Economic and Social Performance, pages 509-564 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • William D. Nordhaus & James Tobin, 1972. "Is Growth Obsolete?," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Research: Retrospect and Prospect Vol 5: Economic Growth, pages 1-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Munasinghe, M., 1993. "Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development," Papers 3, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
    3. Pezzey, J., 1992. "Sustainable Development Concepts; An Economic Analysis," Papers 2, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
    4. Islam, Sardar M. N. & Munasinghe, Mohan & Clarke, Matthew, 2003. "Making long-term economic growth more sustainable: evaluating the costs and benefits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2-3), pages 149-166, December.
    5. Harris, Michael & Fraser, Iain, 2001. "Natural Resource Accounting in Theory and Practive: A Critical Assessment," 2002 Conference (46th), February 13-15, 2002, Canberra 125106, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    6. Costanza, Robert & Patten, Bernard C., 1995. "Defining and predicting sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 193-196, December.
    7. Solow, Robert M, 1986. " On the Intergenerational Allocation of Natural Resources," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 141-49.
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