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Does sustainability-promoting policy making reduce our welfare?

Ulrich Witt

Ecological Economics, 2021, vol. 188, issue C

Abstract: Economic growth has brought prosperity for large parts of the growing world population. But it also expanded the use of nature's resources and absorption capacities to a critical extent. The transition to sustainability that policy making therefore tries to promote may, however, have adverse effects on the growth path. If so, how will consumer welfare be affected? How can policy interventions be legitimized if they cause welfare sacrifices? How will consumers as voters react in the political decision making process if such interventions are proposed? For answering these questions the present paper develops an extended explanation of consumption behavior and welfare related to work in the human sciences on the evolved foundations of human behavior. The approach allows a differentiated view on the driving forces and the welfare effects of consumption growth as well as legitimization and acceptance problems of different sustainability-promoting policy options.

Keywords: Sustainability; Welfare; Consumption; Preferences; Economic growth; Evolution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D11 D60 H23 Q01 Q57 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2021.107130

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