Depletable resources and the economy

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    The subject of this thesis is the depletion of scarce resources. The main question to be answered is how to avoid future resource crises. After dealing with the complex relation between nature and economics, three important concepts in relation with resource depletion are discussed: steady state, time preference and efficiency.<p>For the steady state, three variants are distinguished; the stationary state, the physical steady state and the state of steady growth. It is concluded that the so-called sustainable growth is a combination of the physical steady state and the state of steady growth. Next time preference is discussed. This empirical phenomenon is important in determining the optimum depletion speed of non-renewable and renewable resources. The market interest rate is probably too high to serve as a rate of time preference. The efficient depletion speed of a non-renewable resource is determined by the Hotelling rule, while the optimum depletion speed of a renewable resource is determined by an adapted Hotelling rule which takes into account the renewal rate of the renewable resource. Indeed, both rules can be deduced from the Faustmann rule.<p>The analysis is continued with the integration of the optimum depletion rules in traditional growth theory. It appears that sustainable growth is just one of several growth paths, and not a necessary one. Short term cyclical developments are discussed with the help of the multiplier-accelerator model, the Cobweb model and a neoclassical cycle model with a so-called KLEM production function.<p>It appears that market forms influence the depletion speed of depletable resources. For instance, a monopoly depletes a resource less quickly than firms under perfect competition. Another matter which is dealt with extensively is the influence of the property rights on the depletion pattern. Ways in which government can influence the resource use of firms are discussed extensively. The main solutions of possible future resource crises are to be found in special types of technological development, recycling, substitution between resources, substitution between resources and capital or labour and economies of scale. Finally the question is answered whether scarce resources should be considered relatively or absolutely scarce.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Peer, H.W.G.M., Promotor, External person
    • Folmer, H., Promotor, External person
    • Krabbe, J.J., Promotor, External person
    Award date27 Sep 1991
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Print ISBNs9789067541930
    Publication statusPublished - 1991


    • natural resources
    • national wealth

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