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Luck or skill? An examination of the Ehrlich-Simon bet

Katherine Kiel (), Victor Matheson () and Kevin Golembiewski

Ecological Economics, 2010, vol. 69, issue 7, 1365-1367

Abstract: In 1980, Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon placed a famous bet on whether the prices of a bundle of natural resources would rise or fall over the ensuing decade. Simon won the bet as the real price of the bundle fell significantly, and the result of this bet has been taken as proof that technological progress is likely to overcome that of any Neo-Malthusian concerns about natural resource scarcity. Contrary to the popular perception, however, an examination of the price history of the identical bundle of goods from 1900 to 2008 shows that Ehrlich and not Simon would have won a majority of the bets over the past century and would have done so by a wide margin.

Keywords: Natural; resources; Scarcity; Neo-Malthusian (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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