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Edited by Richard P.F. Holt, Steven Pressman and Clive L. Spash

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Post Keynesian and Ecological Economics

Confronting Environmental Issues

Edited by Richard P.F. Holt, Steven Pressman and Clive L. Spash

It is argued that mainstream economics, with its present methodological approach, is limited in its ability to analyze and develop adequate public policy to deal with current environmental problems and sustainable development. This book provides an alternative approach. Building on the strengths and insights of Post Keynesian and ecological economics and incorporating cutting edge work in such areas as economic complexity, bounded rationality and socio-economic dynamics, the contributors to this book provide a trans-disciplinary approach to deal with a broad range of environmental concerns.
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Steven Pressman and Robert H. Scott III

This chapter examines the distributional implications of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century and relates them to the problem of achieving greater environmental sustainability. If Piketty’s arguments are correct, then slower economic growth will lead to much higher income and wealth inequality. On the other hand, rapid economic growth (as measured by gross domestic product) leads to immense biophysical strain from pollution, climate change, species extinction and other maladies. Reducing economic growth to a more steady state (low-growth or no-growth) level is desirable for ecological reasons; but the work of Piketty leads to the conclusion that it will be necessary to enact policies that combat rising inequality – otherwise, the burden of lower growth will fall on the poor and working class. This chapter discusses how Piketty’s tax policies and some other tax policies could help reduce income and wealth inequality and support the steady state at the same time. In addition, programs promoting green jobs, education and infrastructure can contribute to greater environmental sustainability as well as income and wealth equality.

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Steven Pressman

Policymakers have adopted two main antipoverty approaches in the United States. First, they have emphasized developing human capital, enabling workers to earn higher wages. Second, transfer programmes have provided a safety net for low-income citizens. This chapter advocates an alternative approach: using social insurance programmes to reduce poverty without creating negative incentives. It then looks at programmes focusing on three different age groups: (1) child allowances and paid parental leave, (2) unemployment and disability insurance and (3) old-age pensions. It finds these programmes effective in reducing poverty throughout the developed world, especially in Nordic countries with generous social insurance benefits.

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Steven Pressman