Public Economics and the Quality of Life

Public Economics and the Quality of Life

Public Economics and the Quality of Life

Public Economics and the Quality of Life

Excerpt

In recent years increasing concern has been voiced over the consequences and prospects of continuing economic growth. E. J. Mishan The Costs of Economic Growth (1967) has become a rallying point for many who contend that increases in gross national product lead inevitably to increased pollution, congestion, and other external diseconomies which counter the apparent increase in economic welfare. In response, Nordhaus and Tobin (1972) have tried to measure the extent of this reduction in welfare at the macroeconomic level; Easterlin (1973) and King (1974) have provided alternative indicators of differences in economic welfare; at the microeconomic level, Walters (1975) has attempted to obtain better measures of the incidence of these diseconomies, and Griffin (1974) has attempted the same for the costs of controlling them. Baumol and Oates (1971) have sought to devise more effective methods of control.

Another contingent identified with Forrester (1971), Meadows and coauthors (1972), and the Club of Rome has argued that the finiteness of world resources limits the growth of gross world product and makes the case for policies aimed at achieving zero growth rates. Wilfred Beckerman's In Defense of Economic Growth (1975) accuses these "eco-doomsters" of ignorance of the facts of economic life--to wit, the processes by which a relatively plentiful good will be substituted for another which is becoming scarce, the implications of discounting, and the fact that the quantity of "known" resources of any natural material is defined by the costliness of exploration and the technology of extraction.

J. K. Galbraith The Affluent Society (1958) and The New Industrial State (1967) take the position that the developed economies . . .

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