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Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment$
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Partha Dasgupta

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247882

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199247889.001.0001

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Wealth and Well‐Being

Wealth and Well‐Being

(p.139) 9 Wealth and Well‐Being
Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment

Partha Dasgupta (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Develops the concept of sustainable development and shows how it is related to the maintenance of social well‐being through time. It is shown that wealth, estimated in terms of accounting prices, serves admirably as an index of well‐being over time and across generations. A country's wealth measures the social worth of its capital assets. The notion of wealth developed here is a comprehensive one, including in it the social worth of manufactured and human capital, public knowledge, and natural capital. Given that movements in wealth over time measure movements in social well‐being, the object of study is then shown to be genuine investment, the social worth of net changes in an economy's capital assets. Thus, ensuring that social well‐being is sustainable involves taking care that the economy's assets are managed well. The theory is also put to work on contemporary data from the poorest countries in the world. Movements in the wealth of nations present a vastly different picture from the one gleaned from the two most popular measures of social well‐being. A substantial reassessment of the post‐war development experience among poor countries is now needed if sustainable development is to be anything more than a slogan at national and international conferences.

Keywords:   accounting prices, asset management, capital assets, genuine investment, poor countries, public knowledge, sustainable development, wealth, well‐being index

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