Interpreting Sustainability in Economic Terms: Dynamic Efficiency Plus Intergenerational Equity
Economists have expended considerable effort to develop economically meaningful definitions of the somewhat elusive concept of "sustainability." We relate such a definition of sustainability to well known concepts from neoclassical economics, in particular, potential Pareto improvements (in the Kaldor-Hicks sense) and inter-personal compensation. In the inter-temporal realm, we find that dynamic efficiency is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a notion of sustainability that has normative standing as a goal for public policy. We define sustainability as dynamic efficiency plus intergenerational equity. Further, we argue that it is not unreasonable for economists to focus on the efficiency element, leaving equity considerations to the political process. The analogy to the relationship between potential Pareto improvements and (intragenerational) transfers can facilitate discussions about sustainability, both within the economics community and as part of an interdisciplinary discourse, and makes the basic concepts easier to operationalize.
|Date of creation:||May 2002|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/index.htm
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Tungodden, Bertil, 2001.
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 252-268, May.
- Asheim, G.B. & Buchholz, W. & Withagen, C.A.A.M., 2002.
"The Hartwick Rule : Myths and Facts,"
2002-52, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
- Farrow, Scott, 1998. "Environmental equity and sustainability: rejecting the Kaldor-Hicks criteria," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 183-188, November.
- Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Lawrence Goulder & Gretchen Daily & Paul Ehrlich & Geoffrey Heal & Simon Levin & Karl-Göran Mäler & Stephen Schneider & David Starrett & Brian Walker, 2004. "Are We Consuming Too Much?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 147-172, Summer.
- Pezzey, J., 1992. "Sustainable Development Concepts; An Economic Analysis," Papers 2, World Bank - The World Bank Environment Paper.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp02-018. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.