The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Economics and the
Environment
Jeff Bennet

Context

There is a growing interest in the use of economics to better understand the ways in which Australian society interacts with the environment. Two driving forces buoy this interest. First, higher real incomes and increased educational standards have been reflected in growing levels of community concern on environmental issues. This has been reflected in the political agenda. Second, while most environmental resources are renewable, such has been their rate of use (either directly as a harvest or indirectly as the external effect of other actions) that stocks have been depleted, some irreversibly.

Together, the increase in demand for the environment and the decrease in supply have resulted in growing relative scarcity of environmental resources. Once these resources were considered to be either 'free', or a liability in that they created a barrier to the development of other resources. Now they are regarded by most as having value. Environmental resources are used as inputs into the production of goods and services (for example, shelter belts on farms). They are consumed directly (such as protected natural areas as tourism and recreation sites).The environment contributes to the utility of people who have no direct contact with the resource (including the 'existence value' of endangered species).

The relative scarcity of environmental resources has attracted the attention of economists interested in applying their analytical tools to allocation and distribution issues. Particular attention has been given to resource-use choices where scarcity has become most apparent – sometimes because of lobby-group/media amplification of the situation. Key points of focus have included water and air pollution, global warming, remnant vegetation, forests, biodiversity (including species protection), salinity and rivers.

The conventional approach taken by economists to matters environmental centres on the concept of 'market failure' arising through the presence of externalities – where the impact of one person's actions affect the wellbeing of a third party – or public goods – where it is impossible to exclude users and one person's use of the good does not impact on its availability to others.Therefore much of the economic research in the area has focused on the development of strategies for government intervention. This has

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The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Contributors x
  • Preface and Acknowledgements xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • Part 1 - Economics 15
  • Chapter 1 - Privatisation 17
  • References 27
  • Chapter 2 - Competition Policy and Regulation 31
  • References 40
  • Chapter 3 - Economics and the Environment 45
  • References 57
  • Chapter 4 - Health Economics 60
  • References 70
  • Chapter 5 - Immigration 74
  • References 87
  • Chapter 6 - Labour Market and Industrial Relations 94
  • References 113
  • Chapter 7 - Income Distribution and Redistribution 118
  • References 134
  • Chapter 8 - Taxation 138
  • References 148
  • Chapter 9 - Innovation 153
  • References 165
  • Chapter 10 - International Trade and Industry Policies 168
  • References 180
  • Chapter 11 - The Macro Economy 186
  • Notes 199
  • References 200
  • Chapter 12 - Money and Banking 203
  • References 216
  • Part 2 - Political Science 221
  • Chapter 13 - Political Theory 223
  • References 231
  • Chapter 14 - Federalism and the Constitution 234
  • References 246
  • Chapter 15 - Legislative Institutions 249
  • References 260
  • Chapter 16 - Political Parties and Electoral Behaviour 266
  • References 283
  • Chapter 17 - Electoral Systems 287
  • References 302
  • Chapter 18 - Gender Politics 305
  • References 319
  • Chapter 19 - Interest Groups and Social Movements 323
  • References 339
  • Chapter 20 - Environmental Policy and Politics 345
  • References 355
  • Chapter 21 - International Relations 358
  • Notes 368
  • References 369
  • Chapter 22 - Political Economy 374
  • References 391
  • Chapter 23 - Public Policy and Public Administration 406
  • References 422
  • Part 3 - Sociology 431
  • Chapter 24 - Patterns of Social Inequality 433
  • References 457
  • Chapter 25 - Families and Households 462
  • References 477
  • Chapter 26 - Gender Perspectives 480
  • References 493
  • Chapter 27 - Work and Employment 499
  • Notes 511
  • References 512
  • Chapter 28 - Crime and Deviance 518
  • References 531
  • Chapter 29 - Health and Illness 536
  • References 552
  • Chapter 30 - Population 554
  • References 569
  • Chapter 31 - Race, Ethnicity and Immigration 573
  • Notes 585
  • References 586
  • Chapter 32 - Urban and Regional Sociology 590
  • Reference 598
  • Chapter 33 - Rural Sociology 604
  • Reference 619
  • Chapter 34 - Religion and Spirituality 626
  • Reference 632
  • Chapter 35 - Cultural Studies, Australian Studies and Cultural Sociology 638
  • References 651
  • Chapter 36 - Sociological Theory 654
  • References 664
  • Chapter 37 - Social Policy and Social Welfare 666
  • References 674
  • Author Index 678
  • Subject Index 696
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