Essays in Sustainability Economics : Economic Distribution and Valuation, Environmental Scarcity, and Ethical Behavior
This doctoral thesis is based on seven chapters and six individual research articles and contributes to different strands of the economics literature, among others to environmental and resource economics, ecological economics, public economics, as well as behavioural and experimental economics. First and foremost, however, I see the thesis contributing to the emerging research area of sustainability economics. Specifically, I address some core aspects of the broader research agenda on sustainability economics. Chapter 2 studies how the economic valuation of non-marketed environmental goods depends on the distribution of income within a society, thus speaking to the intra-generational dimension of the human-nature relationship. Chapter 3, in turn, is concerned with allocative and distributive issues across generations. Specifically, it examines how society should allocate costs and benefits of public projects, such as those aimed at mitigating climate change, over time. Furthermore, chapters 4 and 5 address the role of `essential needs’ and `limitations’ as noted in the seminal Brundlandt definition of sustainability by studying to what degree scarce environmental goods and services indeed have human-made substitutes and complements if one takes subsistence consumption into consideration. Chapters 6 and 7 make use of economic experiments to study ethical behaviour of both fishermen and scientists, with a specific focus on honesty and truth-telling. While a better understanding of the behaviour of fishermen is directly relevant to the management of an important common pool resource, the question of whether scientists tell the truth is of fundamental importance for science at large and perhaps even more so for sustainability economics, which sees itself as a relevant science that not only follows a cognitive interest, but also a direct action or management interest in facilitating a transition towards a sustainable development.