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Is India on a Sustainable Development Path?


  • Kumar, Surender


Sustainability requires that the productive base measured in terms of comprehensive wealth of a society should be increasing on per capita basis. Comprehensive wealth includes manufactured, human and natural capital along with knowledge base and institutions. This study offers methodological improvements and provides estimates of the growth rate of per capita comprehensive wealth over the period 1970-2006 for Indian economy. It considers air, water and soil degradation along with energy, minerals and forests depletion. To measure the value and composition of investment in natural capital, it estimates resource depreciation allowances on the basis of Hotelling rent; it adjusts education expenditure for depreciation in human capital; and uses the estimates of TFP that takes into account natural capital in the production of commodities and services. The empirical application suggests that Indian economy is barely sustainable. Growth rate of per capita comprehensive wealth was virtually near zero, it was only 0.15 percent per year for the study period. The growth rate was negative till 1983. Thereafter it became positive; however it was less than one percent in 1980s and 1990s. In recent years the growth rate was about 4 percent. Despite certain limitations, the study underscores the need for vigorous public policies that help in preventing excessive resource depletion and promoting higher genuine investment.

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  • Kumar, Surender, 2008. "Is India on a Sustainable Development Path?," MPRA Paper 10086, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:10086

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Karl-Göran Mäler, 2003. "Evaluating Projects and Assessing Sustainable Development in Imperfect Economies," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(4), pages 647-685, December.
    2. Hamilton, Kirk & Clemens, Michael, 1999. "Genuine Savings Rates in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 333-356, May.
    3. Wim Groot, 1998. "Empirical estimates of the rate of depreciation of education," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(8), pages 535-538.
    4. 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.
    5. Vincent, Jeffrey R., 1997. "Resource depletion and economic sustainability in Malaysia," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 19-37, February.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1976. "A Theory of Life Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 45-67, August.
    7. Kumar, Surender, 2006. "Environmentally sensitive productivity growth: A global analysis using Malmquist-Luenberger index," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 280-293, February.
    8. Maria Arrazola & Jose de Hevia, 2004. "More on the estimation of the human capital depreciation rate," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(3), pages 145-148.
    9. Ayres, Robert U., 2008. "Sustainability economics: Where do we stand?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 281-310, September.
    10. Vincent, J. & Casteneda, B., 1997. "Economic Depreciation of Natural Resources in Asia and Implications for Net Savings and Long-Run Consumption," Papers 614, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    11. Vouvaki, Dimitra & Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2008. "Changes in social welfare and sustainability: Theoretical issues and empirical evidence," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 473-484, October.
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    More about this item


    Sustainability; development; Comprehensive wealth; Hotelling rent; India;

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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