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An Environmental-Economic Measure of Sustainable Development

  • Robert D. Cairns
  • Vincent Martinet

A central issue in the study of sustainable development is the interplay of growth and sacrifice in a dynamic economy. This paper investigates the relationship among current consumption, growth, and sustained consumption in two canonical, stylized economies and in a more general context. It is found that the maximin value measures what is sustainable and provides the limit to growth. Maximin value is interpreted as an environmental-economic carrying capacity and current consumption or utility as an environmental-economic footprint. The time derivative of maximin value is interpreted as net investment in sustainability improvement. It is called durable savings to distinguish it from genuine savings, usually computed with discounted utilitarian prices.

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Paper provided by University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX in its series EconomiX Working Papers with number 2012-2.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:drm:wpaper:2012-2
Contact details of provider: Postal: 200 Avenue de la République, Bât. G - 92001 Nanterre Cedex
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  1. Tapan Mitra & Geir B. Asheim & Wolfgang Buchholz & Cees A. Withagen, 2012. "Characterizing the Sustainability Problem in an Exhaustible Resource Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 3758, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Asheim,G.B. & Buchholz,W. & Tungodden,B., 1999. "Justifying sustainability," Memorandum 08/1999, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  3. Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Hartwick, John M. & Mitra, Tapan & Withagen, Cees, 2005. "Constant savings rates and quasi-arithmetic population growth under exhaustible resource constraints," Memorandum 23/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  4. repec:ecl:ucdeco:09-5 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2008. "A dynamic analysis of human welfare in a warming planet," Economics Working Papers 1110, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Feb 2010.
  6. Antoine d'Autume & Katheline Schubert, 2009. "Zero discounting and optimal paths of depletion of an exhaustible resource with an amenity value," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 09012, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  7. Cairns, Robert D. & Long, Ngo Van, 2006. "Maximin: a direct approach to sustainability," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 275-300, June.
  8. Vincent Martinet & Luc Doyen, 2007. "Sustainability of an economy with an exhaustible resource: A viable control approach," Post-Print hal-01186925, HAL.
  9. Vincent Martinet & Luc Doyen, 2012. "Maximin, Viability and Sustainability," Post-Print hal-01019014, HAL.
  10. Burmeister, Edwin & Hammond, P J, 1977. "Maximin Paths of Heterogeneous Capital Accumulation and the Instability of Paradoxical Steady States," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(4), pages 853-70, May.
  11. John Hartwick, 1976. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," Working Papers 220, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  12. Cairns, Robert D. & Tian, Huilan, 2010. "Sustained development of a society with a renewable resource," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1048-1061, June.
  13. Pezzey, J.C.V.John C. V., 2004. "One-sided sustainability tests with amenities, and changes in technology, trade and population," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 613-631, July.
  14. Asheim, Geir B., 2005. "Can NNP be used for welfare comparisons?," Memorandum 24/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  15. Partha Dasgupta, 2009. "The Welfare Economic Theory of Green National Accounts," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 42(1), pages 3-38, January.
  16. Asheim, Geir B, 1994. " Net National Product as an Indicator of Sustainability," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(2), pages 257-65.
  17. Dasgupta, Partha & M Ler, Karl-G Ran, 2000. "Net national product, wealth, and social well-being," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(01), pages 69-93, February.
  18. Chichilnisky, Graciela & Heal, Geoffrey & Beltratti, Andrea, 1995. "The Green Golden Rule," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 175-179, August.
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