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Measuring Natural Capital and the Causes of Deforestation
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, September 2019
This study looks at the measurement of the extent, causes and consequences of deforestation as a depletion of a stock of natural capital, a topic of interest to national statistics offices (NSO) in the preparation of satellite accounts. Currently many anomalies and unresolved issues affect the construction of forest databases, although efforts are currently under way to resolve these data problems. Brazil and Indonesia account for 35% of global forest loss in the sample of countries studied in this paper between 1990 and 2015. This has called beef and palm oil to international attention, especially from environmental activists. The case of Malaysia, where consistent data show that reforestation has followed rising GDP per capita and strong policy on forest management, provides strong empirical support for Forest Transition Theory.
The Digital Revolution – New Challenges for National Accounting?
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Michael Grömling, World Economics, March 2016
The digital revolution has changed many industries, but measuring these changes from a national accounting perspective causes problems. Generally, in the transition periods during the introduction of new technologies, marked setbacks in the estimation of productivity growth are possible. Whereas new private goods are partly invisible in the national accounts because of measurement lags due to outdated accounting standards, more often only their negative substitution effects turn up in GDP measures. If this causes a market phenomenon it should be reflected initially in a weaker market production and productivity. In order to capture new private digital goods and their welfare effects a separate documentation of their introduction in a ‘satellite account’ is recommended.
The Shadow Economy Labour Force
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Friedrich Schneider, World Economics, December 2011
In this paper, the main focus lies on the development and size of the shadow economy labour force in OECD, developing and transition countries. Besides informal employment in the rural and non-rural sector, other measures of informal employment like the share of employees not covered by social security, own account workers or unpaid family workers are also shown. The most influential factors on the shadow labour force are tax policies and state regulation, which, if they rise, increase both. Furthermore the discussion of the recent literature underlines that economic opportunities, the overall situation on the labour market and unemployment are crucial for an understanding of the dynamics of the shadow economy and especially the shadow labour force.
A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?
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Horst Zimmermann, World Economics, September 2000
This is a reply to Giles Atkinson’s article ‘Re-thinking Economic Progress’ that appeared in the first issue of World Economics (Vol. 1, No. 1, January – March 2000). Atkinson discussed proposals for the construction of ‘green’ alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the same issue, Amanda Rowlatt in her article ‘Extending the UK National Accounts’, discussed the role of ‘satellite accounts’, including measures of effects on the environment. Professor Zimmermann’s contention is that the concept of a ‘green GDP’ would lead to a one-sided measure which cannot be used for the many purposes for which normal GDP as a comprehensive measure can be used. A GDP corrected for depletion of environmental stocks would have to be supplemented by one corrected for changes in human capital, another one dealing with health capital, etc. Completing the set leads to the older concept of Net Economic Welfare or something similar. Only this would again be a comprehensive measure and could replace GDP.
False Perspective: The UNDP View of the World
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David Henderson, World Economics, March 2000
Despite some searching and unanswered criticisms of its treatment of statistical evidence, the UNDP Human Development Report has become established as a widely-quoted and influential survey of the world scene. The 1999 Report, reviewed here, focuses on ‘globalization’. This is described as a dominant influence on the recent economic fortunes of developing countries in particular, and as a primary cause of continuing poverty and growing inequality in the world. The author argues that the Report provides neither argument nor evidence in support of this thesis; that it takes no account of other factors that have strongly influenced economic performance; that its main prescription for the world, of reforms in ‘global governance’, is largely beside the point; and that its whole approach is crudely anti-liberal. The author concludes by placing the Report, as also the economists who have aligned themselves with it, in the wider context of anti-liberalism today.



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