Beautiful Landscape

Genuine Savings as a measure of sustainable development. Towards a GDP replacement

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This projects aims to trace levels of sustainability from the mid 19th century to today using the Genuine Savings metric (henceforth, GS) . GS is an indicator propagated by the World Bank and frequently used in economics research; it measures progress and development and has proven to be an relevant indicator of sustainable development. GS is based on the concept of wealth accounting, and addresses shortcomings in conventional metrics of economic development by incorporating broader measures of saving and investment, including human capital (education), and natural resources by accounting for social costs of pollution and natural resource depletion. Its value as an indicator is determined the possibility to predict future standard of living on basis of genuine investments of the past. A central shortcoming of GS data provided by the World Bank is its limited historical coverage; conventional GS data usually covers the period after 1970s. This limits the empirical studies linking past genuine investment and the future development of the standard of living. Our project addresses this gap by providing consistent historical estimates of GS since 1850 the necessary figures for economists, policy makers and general public to assess the role of sustainable development in a more holistic fashion. Several Sustainable Development Goals are enhanced when GS are used, such as "Affordable and Clean Energy", "Decent Work and Economic Growth" and "Climate action".

VIDEO SUMMARY 

Funding 

The project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond

Reference P19-0048:1 

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Institutions 

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Department of Economic History, Lund University

Department of Economics, University College of Cork 

Departments of Economics, University of Waikato