Next Article in Journal
Impact of Bio-Based Plastics on Current Recycling of Plastics
Next Article in Special Issue
Environmental Literacy on Ecotourism: A Study on Student Knowledge, Attitude, and Behavioral Intentions in China and Taiwan
Previous Article in Journal
Founder Succession, The Imprint of Founders’ Legacies, and Long-Term Corporate Survival
Previous Article in Special Issue
An Exploratory Study of the Learning of Transferable Skills in a Research-Oriented Intensive Course in Atmospheric Sciences
Article Menu
Issue 5 (May) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessCommentary

Rethinking Teaching of Basic Principles of Economics from a Sustainability Perspective

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore 259772, Singapore
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1486;
Received: 1 April 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 9 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching and Learning for Sustainability)
PDF [398 KB, uploaded 9 May 2018]


In this paper, we posit that sustainability warrants explicit recognition in the teaching of basic principles of economics. The conventional exposition of conceptual and analytic frameworks in basic principles in almost all standard economics textbooks overlooks at least two basic flaws. The first of these concerns the collection of residual externalities that exist without being internalized in market transactions and hence fall outside the calculus of national income accounting. For example, not all energy resource prices capture the entirety of the damages inflicted on natural ecosystems. The cumulus of residual externalities threatens the feasibility of sustainability. The second flaw is the absence of sustainability as a necessary condition in the fundamental benchmark of perfect competition (PC). Sustainability, when explicitly introduced in the PC benchmark, results in significant changes to conceptual premises in economics. The most significant of such changes concerns the axiomatic differentiation between “goods” and “bads”. View Full-Text
Keywords: basic principles of economics; sustainability; residual externalities; perfect competition basic principles of economics; sustainability; residual externalities; perfect competition

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material


Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Chindarkar, N.; Thampapillai, D.J. Rethinking Teaching of Basic Principles of Economics from a Sustainability Perspective. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1486.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top