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Scarcity and Growth in the New Millennium: Summary

  • Toman, Michael
  • Simpson, R. David
  • Ayres, Robert

In their 1963 classic Scarcity and Growth Howard Barnett and Chandler Morse argued that resource scarcity did not threaten economic growth. A second investigation in the late 1970s, Scarcity and Growth Reconsidered, reached largely the same conclusion. The 25 years since that work was published have witnessed many developments. The message of Scarcity and Growth that depletion of market resources was not a problem has given way to a concern that “new scarcities” of environmental quality, global climate, and biological diversity are emerging. Resources for the Future recently assembled a distinguished group of international scholars to again address scarcity and growth. This paper describes their charge and summarizes their findings. Technological progress may hold the key to overcoming the scarcity of environmental resources. Market forces may not be enough to motivate the required innovations, which must instead be social and institutional as well as technical and will be constrained by interlinking complexities.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-04-01.

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Date of creation: 03 Feb 2004
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-04-01
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  1. M. L. Weitzman, 1974. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in Dynamic Economy," Working papers 125, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Gene M. Grossman & Alan B. Krueger, 1994. "Economic Growth and the Environment," NBER Working Papers 4634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. D. Gale Johnson, 2000. "Population, Food, and Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 1-14, March.
  5. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Chapters, in: Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870, pages 1-23 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Divergence, big time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1522, The World Bank.
  7. Heal, Geoffrey M., 1993. "The optimal use of exhaustible resources," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 855-880 Elsevier.
  8. Nordhaus, William D, 1974. "Resources as a Constraint on Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 22-26, May.
  9. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  10. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra56-1.
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