Working paper 2012-2
An Environmental-Economic Measure of Sustainable Development
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.
Keywords : sustained development; growth; maximin; sustainability indicator