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On the possibility of sustainable development with less economic growth: a research note

Ângelo Barroso, Cristina Chaves (), Francisco Vitorino Martins and Manuel Branco
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Ângelo Barroso: University of Porto
Cristina Chaves: University of Porto
Francisco Vitorino Martins: University of Porto

Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, 2016, vol. 18, issue 5, No 6, 1399-1414

Abstract: Abstract The main purpose of this paper is to discuss whether it is possible to achieve human development without or with less economic growth. For this to happen, it is important that developed countries can maintain high levels of human development while reducing the scale of production and consumption so that developing countries can achieve greater economic growth. Using panel data from 118 countries aggregated in ten blocks of countries, we assess the influence of “growth” on “development”, as proxied by a transformed variable “Social Human Development Index” (SHDI), controlling for the influence of geo-economic factors. In particular, we analyse whether developed countries present a weaker statistical relation between GDP and the social dimension of HDI than their less developed counterparts. Results reveal that the GDP elasticity of SHDI is higher in blocks of countries where the concentration of developing countries occurs than in blocks dominated by the presence of developed countries. Thus, it is possible to envisage that a slowdown in economic activity in developed countries may occur without great sacrifice of human development, at least when it is measured by health and education components. We interpret the findings as meaning that at an aggregate level there are conditions for development to occur without or with less growth.

Keywords: Growth; Sustainable development; HDI; Model of constant elasticity; Degrowth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1007/s10668-016-9802-y

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