This book breaks new ground by accounting for the welfare implications of both severe inequality and environmental degradation and developing a sustainable development indicator that incorporates changes over time in each of these dimensions. The model is applied to data from Brazil spanning the 1965 -1998 period. The book's findings cast significant doubt on the proposition that rapid economic growth in Brazil has resulted in comparable welfare gains. The evidence presented more generally illustrates the often unsustainable nature of rapid GDP growth phases, as well as the general unreliability of GDP growth as an indicator of well-being improvement. The specific policy implication is that Brazil should discontinue - or at least severely curtail - the regressive and resource intensive economic policies it has followed in recent decades in the interest of welfare improvement not only for the poorer groups in society, but for future generations of Brazilians as well.
Table of Contents
Contents: Sustainable development: an introduction; The political economy of growth and deforestation in Brazil; Measuring sustainable development: definitional issues and competing perspectives; Green income accounting: the commodity value of natural resources; Green income accounting: the conservation value of natural resources; Sustainable development reassessment: application of the distribution weights framework; Conclusion: requiem for GDP?; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
'At last we have a solid empirical analysis that intertwines several strands of ecological economic theory. Long run resource availability is being exploited for short run economic gains, the poor are pawns in the process rather than beneficiaries, and our economic indicators are hiding the truth.' Richard B. Norgaard, Past President, International Society for Ecological Economics, University of California at Berkeley, USA '...Torras demonstrates that it is both possible and desirable to construct alternative measures of economic performance that are sensitive to natural-resource depletion and income distribution. This book should be required reading for economists and others concerned with sustainable human development.' James K. Boyce, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA 'This book serves a double purpose. It is an excellent textbook on the methods for "greening" National Income Accounting. At the same time, it contributes powerfully to the debate on the environmental unsustainability of economic growth in Brazil. It also takes into account social distribution issues so topical after the recent change in government.' Professor Joan Martinez-Alier, Universitat Autonoma, Spain