Evolutionary economic theories of sustainable development

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Sustainable development has become the dominant concept in the study of interactions between the economy and the biophysical environment, as well as a generally accepted goal of environmental policy. So far, economists have predominantly applied standard or neo-classical theory to environmental economic problems. In this article it will be argued that to fully understand a transformation of the economic system towards sustainability, standard environmental economics needs to be complemented by an evolutionary approach, that focuses the attention on irreversible, path-dependent change and long-run mutual selection of environmental and economic processes and systems. The article provides an overview of the main existing evolutionary contributions to environmental economics. Furthermore, a number of research directions of an evolutionary approach in environmental economics are discussed. It is suggested that such an approach should go beyond evolutionary theories of technical change, which dominate evolutionary economics so far, by including co-evolution of economy and environment, sustainable consumption, endogenous preference change, and climate change modeling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-134
Number of pages25
JournalGrowth and Change
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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evolutionary theory
economic theory
environmental economics
sustainable development
neoclassical theory
economic system
coevolution
economics
environmental policy
sustainability
climate change
modeling
economy

Cite this

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title = "Evolutionary economic theories of sustainable development",
abstract = "Sustainable development has become the dominant concept in the study of interactions between the economy and the biophysical environment, as well as a generally accepted goal of environmental policy. So far, economists have predominantly applied standard or neo-classical theory to environmental economic problems. In this article it will be argued that to fully understand a transformation of the economic system towards sustainability, standard environmental economics needs to be complemented by an evolutionary approach, that focuses the attention on irreversible, path-dependent change and long-run mutual selection of environmental and economic processes and systems. The article provides an overview of the main existing evolutionary contributions to environmental economics. Furthermore, a number of research directions of an evolutionary approach in environmental economics are discussed. It is suggested that such an approach should go beyond evolutionary theories of technical change, which dominate evolutionary economics so far, by including co-evolution of economy and environment, sustainable consumption, endogenous preference change, and climate change modeling.",
author = "P. Mulder and {van den Bergh}, J.C.J.M.",
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}

Evolutionary economic theories of sustainable development. / Mulder, P.; van den Bergh, J.C.J.M.

In: Growth and Change, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2001, p. 110-134.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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