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The Tinbergen & Hueting Approach in the Economics of Ecological Survival

Colignatus, Thomas (2009): The Tinbergen & Hueting Approach in the Economics of Ecological Survival.

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Tinbergen & Hueting (1991) provide an approach to the economics of ecological survival that still is unsurpassed. Various “green GDPs” have been proposed such as ISEW, Ecological Footprint, Genuine Savings and Genuine Progress Indicator, and lately there is an increased interest in happiness as a re-interpretation of economic utility and social welfare. With respect to both ecological survival and requirements of economic theory these alternatives however fail. The Tinbergen & Hueting (1991) approach is (1) rooted in the fundamentals of economic analysis, (2) rooted in fundamentals of ecology, (3) applicable within the statistical framework of national accounting and henceforth fully practical, (4) demanding in economic and environmental expertise but concerning the resulting indicator of (environmentally) Sustainable National Income (eSNI) easy to understand by policy makers and the general public. Currently, statistical offices and economic advisory agencies over the world are implementing NAMEA systems for national accounting and derived indicators both for statistical observation and projections for the future. Policy discussions on ecological survival will be much served when researchers study in detail what these great economists have wrought. When an economist hasn’t read Tinbergen & Hueting (1991) and Hueting and De Boer (2001) then an advice on economic growth and ecological survival is at risk to be misguided – as indeed is shown in the various cases.

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