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The Economics of Sustainability: A Review of Journal Articles

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  • Toman, Michael
  • Pezzey, John C.

Abstract

Concern about sustainability helped to launch a new agenda for development and environmental economics and challenged many of the fundamental goals and assumptions of the conventional, neoclassical economics of growth and development. We review 25 years’ of refereed journal articles on the economics of sustainability, with emphasis on analyses that involve concern for intergenerational equity in the long-term decisionmaking of a society; recognition of the role of finite environmental resources in long-term decisionmaking; and recognizable, if perhaps unconventional, use of economic concepts, such as instantaneous utility, cost, or intertemporal welfare. Taken as a whole, the articles reviewed here indicate that several areas must be addressed in future investigation: improving the clarity of sustainability criteria, maintaining distinctions between economic efficiency and equity, more thoroughly investigating many common assumptions in the literature about prospects for resource substitution and resource-enhancing technical change, and encouraging the empirical investigation of sustainability issues.

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  • Toman, Michael & Pezzey, John C., 2002. "The Economics of Sustainability: A Review of Journal Articles," Discussion Papers dp-02-03, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-02-03
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    Cited by:

    1. Gowdy, John, 2005. "Toward a new welfare economics for sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 211-222, April.
    2. repec:eee:accfor:v:33:y:2009:i:3:p:245-256 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Klara Helene Stumpf & Stefan Baumgärtner & Christian U. Becker & Stefanie Sievers-Glotzbach, 2015. "The Justice Dimension of Sustainability: A Systematic and General Conceptual Framework," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-35, June.
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    5. Kuhmonen, Tuomas, 2017. "Exposing the attractors of evolving complex adaptive systems by utilising futures images: Milestones of the food sustainability journey," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 214-225.
    6. Nel, Willem P. & van Zyl, Gerhardus, 2010. "Defining limits: Energy constrained economic growth," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 168-177, January.
    7. Arnaud Buchs & Odile Blanchard, 2011. "Exploring the Concept of Sustainable Development Through Role-Playing," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 388-394, October.
    8. Sweidan, Osama D. & Alwaked, Ahmed A., 2016. "Economic development and the energy intensity of human well-being: Evidence from the GCC countries," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1363-1369.
    9. Carl Obst & Lars Hein & Bram Edens, 2016. "National Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Assets and Their Services," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 64(1), pages 1-23, May.
    10. Helen Scarborough & Jeff Bennett, 2012. "Cost–Benefit Analysis and Distributional Preferences," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14376, June.
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    12. Pulido San Román, A., 2003. "Desarrollo sostenible: un reto central para el pensamiento económico," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 21, pages 203-220, Agosto.
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    Keywords

    economic efficiency; intergenerational equity; social optimality; sustainable development;

    JEL classification:

    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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