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Testing the predictive power of genuine savings as a long-run indicator of future well-being


  • David Greasley
  • Nick Hanley
  • Jan Kunnas
  • Eoin McLaughlin
  • Les Oxley
  • Paul Warde


This paper reports the first long-run test of how Genuine Savings (also called comprehensive investment or adjusted net savings) predicts future well-being. The theory of weak sustainability suggests that a country with a positive level of Genuine Savings (GS) should experience non-declining future utility. Despite the widespread uptake of GS, previous tests of its predictive power are for short time intervals. We assemble data for British capital back to 1750, and construct several net investment measures which are used to predict two alternative measures of future well-being: future consumption per capita and real wages. An allowance for a “value of time” due to technological progress is also included. Our results show that GS-type measures can predict changes in future well-being reasonably well over 50 or 100 years into the future.

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  • David Greasley & Nick Hanley & Jan Kunnas & Eoin McLaughlin & Les Oxley & Paul Warde, 2012. "Testing the predictive power of genuine savings as a long-run indicator of future well-being," CEH Discussion Papers 007, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Trinh Le & John Gibson & Les Oxley, 2006. "A Forward-Looking Measure Of The Stock Of Human Capital In New Zealand," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 74(5), pages 593-609, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Greasley & Nick Hanley & Eoin McLaughlin & Les Oxley, 2014. "The Emperor Has New Clothes: Empirical Tests of Mainstream Theories of Economic Growth," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2014-01, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
    2. repec:sss:wpaper:201401 is not listed on IDEAS

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    sustainable development; weak sustainability; genuine savings; comprehensive investment; future well-­‐being; British economic history;

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