National income and the environment
In: Handbook of Environmental Economics
In this chapter, we review the concept of national income and the economic theory of national income accounting. There are two building blocks - the ideas of Fisher, Lindahl, Hicks about income as an expenditure level that can be continued into the future, and the concept of income as a welfare measure that emerges from the welfare economics and general equilibrium of the 1950s and 1960s. The former have led to an extensive literature on the use of Hamiltonians or their first-order approximations as an income measure. After reviewing this body of theory and the connections between the concepts, we suggest extensions and then consider how various proposed green accounting systems match up to the theoretical desiderata. We also review a number of empirical applications. We devote considerable space to the United Nations' proposed System of Economic and Environmental Accounts, and to accounting reforms proposed by the statistical offices of various countries.
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