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Sustainability and the Problem of Consumption

Ulrich Witt

Papers on Economics and Evolution from Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography

Abstract: Strong growth in disposable income has inflated consumption to unprecedented, but not sustainable levels. In this process consumer behavior has been changing. To explain the driving forces of this development, the paper introduces a theory of evolving consumer preferences that is molded in an evolutionary paradigm. The theory allows to better assess how individual welfare would be directly affected by policy measures designed to make consumption sustainable. Such policy measures are likely to also trigger indirect welfare losses by negative employment effects. The policy debate therefore needs to pay attention to both direct and indirect welfare effects. As a concrete proposal a redesign of consumption taxes is discussed that accounts for both concerns.

Keywords: consumption; preferences; growth; sustainability; satiation; welfare; consumption tax (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 D01 D03 D11 D62 H23 H24 Q01 Q38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 23 pages
Date: 2011-12-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pke
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