Edited by Ronaldo Seroa da Motta
Chapter 1: Economic growth, the environment and welfare: are they compatible?
1. Economic growth, the environment and welfare: are they compatible? Hans Opschoor One major concern in the debate on human development and social change is related to the consistency of economic development goals and others, especially social and environmental objectives. Anand and Sen (1996) have argued that there is no basic difﬁculty in broadening the concept of human development to accommodate the claims of future generations on their rights to lead worthwhile lives. They show that their basic, ‘universalist’, precept of human development includes such values as the need to ascertain the availability of sustainable development possibilities to future generations, whilst giving due attention to the urgency of addressing the needs of the deprived people of today. The UNDP deﬁnition of human development – which includes dimensions such as: empowerment to exercise choice, participation and, notably, sustainability (see below) – also brings together the needs of people now and future needs. Compatible as sustainability and development may be conceptually, this does not entail that all factual manifestations of economic development are sustainable. This holds particularly for economic growth, taken to be a rise in the overall levels of production and consumption. The question is, where and when the forces of economic growth can be expected to be compatible with development and environment interests. Recent studies on the links between income growth and sustainability and between income growth and welfare in general, do give rise to such questions. This chapter is organised as follows. First a framework is presented, linking the...
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