Author: Partha Dasgupta
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195660595
Today, quality-of-life indices broker political arguments and together form a coin that even helps purchase economic and social policy. In this book, Partha Dasgupta explores ways to measure the quality of life.
In this book, Partha Dasgupta explores ways to measure the quality of life. Today, quality-of-life indices broker political arguments and together form a coin that even helps purchase economic and social policy.
It is therefore ironic that indices of human well-being in current use are notably insensitive to our dependence on the natural environment, both at a moment in time and across generations. Moreover, international discussions on economic development in poor regions all too frequently ignore the natural resource base. In developing quality-of-life measures, Professor Dasgupta pays particular attention to the natural environment, illustration how it can be incorporated, more generally, into economic reasoning in a seamless manner. The result is a treatise that goes beyond quality-of-life measures and offers a comprehensive account of the newly emergent subject of ecological economics.
Professor Dasgupta develops connections between biodiversity, ecosystem services, resource scarcities, and economic possibilities for the future in a quantitative, but accessible, language. Familiar terms as ‘sustain development’, ‘social discount rates’, and ‘earth’s carrying capacity’ are given firm theoretical underpinnings. This theory is then put to use in extended commentaries on the economics of population, poverty traps, global warming structural adjustment programmes, and free trade. The exposition is prompted by the author’s concerns over the dilemmas facing poor countries.
The book is of interest not only to economists, but also to policy-makers, journalist, and students of development economics, environmental studies, political science, and political philosophy.
Professor Dasgupta’s latest book develops the fundamentals so thoroughly that its methods will have application in many branches of economic evaluation and policy assessment. He moves with ease from deep studies of the meaning of concepts like “sustainability” to detailed empirical accounts of environmental damage. It is a book that will be used and consulted for a long time to come.
—Kenneth J Arrow, Stanford University
Partha Dasgupta is one of the deepest thinkers and most powerful analysts in ecological economics. His tightly reasoned and carefully presented effort will enrich the thinking of students and professionals in economics, environmental studies, political science, political philosophy, and population studies.
—Joel E. Cohen, Rockefeller University and Columbia University
The anthropologist notices that, as a tribe, economists love argument, which means of course that they also love theory and exact measurement. The great economists add to these two loves one more, a passion for justice. Partha Dasgupta adds yet another -compassion. This is how the book transcends its own formidable proficiency as it initiates the non-professional reader into the idea of social cost-benefit.
—Mary Douglas, University College London
Partha Dasgupta is a seminal figure in his discipline, taking on the difficult, yet hugely important, task of trying meaningfully to measure “quality of life”. This book will, I hope, set the tone for the new millennium, melding conventional economic concepts, ecological and environmental science, and a great deal of plain commonsense.
—Robert May, University of Oxford
Reading this book is the equivalent of a crash course in Political economy and moral philosophy. I wholeheartedly recommend it as one of the most important books of the new millennium.
—Elinor Ostrom, Indian University
Summary and Guide
INTRODUCTION: MEANS AND ENDS
1.1 Making Comparisons
1.2 Disagreements over Facts and Values
1.3 Valuation and Evaluation in Kakotopia
PART I: VALUING AND EVALUATING
The Notion of Well-Being
Ordering Social States
Why Measure Well-Being?
Constituents and Determinants of Well-Being
PART II: MEASURING CURRENT WELL-BEING
Current Quality of Life in Poor Countries
PART III: MEASURING WELL-BEING OVER TIME
Economic Institutions and the Natural Environment
Wealth and Well-Being
PART IV: EVALUATING POLICIES IN IMPERFECT ECONOMIES
Discounting Future Consumption
Institutional Responses to Policy Change
PART V: VALUING POTENTIAL LIVES
Classical Utilitarianism and the Genesis Problem
Numbers and Well-Being Under Classical Utilitarianism
Actual vs. Potential Lives