Department of Economics and Cireq, McGill University, Montreal CESifo, Munich
Seven Sins of Sustainability
Abstract. There are many concepts of sustainability. Most amount to vague statements of environmentalism or of support for a particular value the proposer wishes to promote. In 1974, Robert Solow proposed an economic criterion for sustaining a society, which he called “intergenerational equity”. His maximin criterion maximizes the well-being of the least well-off generation looking forward from the present. Conditions include Hartwick’s rule, that total net investment at maximin prices be zero. This paper identifies seven salient popular considerations in current discourse on sustainability. By challenging their validity, the maximin criterion “sins” against these seven popular considerations.
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