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Sustainability 2011, 3(9), 1341-1356; doi:10.3390/su3091341

Accounting for Sustainability: A Dissenting Opinion

Department of Economics, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal QC H3A 2T7, Canada
Received: 5 August 2011 / Revised: 21 August 2011 / Accepted: 25 August 2011 / Published: 29 August 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [324 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Discounted-utilitarian welfare, the commonest social objective studied by economists, is the basis for the theory of green accounting in terms of social utility. Sustainability is a different type of social objective. Consequently, green accounting as derived in many empirical models is not appropriate for studying sustainability. Maximin is a consistent foundation for the analysis of sustainability, both weak and strong, that provides conceptually correct accounting prices. These prices are not yet practicable for real economies, however, and must await further advances. Sustainable development is a generalization of the notion of sustainability and can be analyzed using a generalization of maximin.
Keywords: sustainability; sustainable development; present value; welfare; maximin; green accounting sustainability; sustainable development; present value; welfare; maximin; green accounting
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Cairns, R.D. Accounting for Sustainability: A Dissenting Opinion. Sustainability 2011, 3, 1341-1356.

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