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

Author

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  • 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)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Clarke & Sardar M. N. Islam, 2006. "National account measures and sustainability objectives: present approaches and future prospects," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 219-233.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:14:y:2006:i:4:p:219-233
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.264
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/sd.264
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, Volume 5, Economic Growth, pages 1-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Munasinghe, M., 1993. "Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development," Papers 3, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
    4. Harris, Michael & Fraser, Iain, 2002. "Natural resource accounting in theory and practice: A critical assessment," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 46(2), June.
    5. Pezzey, J., 1992. "Sustainable Development Concepts; An Economic Analysis," Papers 2, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
    6. Solow, Robert M, 1986. " On the Intergenerational Allocation of Natural Resources," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 141-149.
    7. Costanza, Robert & Patten, Bernard C., 1995. "Defining and predicting sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 193-196, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brennan, Andrew John, 2008. "Theoretical foundations of sustainable economic welfare indicators -- ISEW and political economy of the disembedded system," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-19, August.
    2. Haight, Alan Day, 2007. "Diagram for a small planet: The Production and Ecosystem Possibilities Curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 224-232, October.

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