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Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment [Paperback]

Partha Dasgupta

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Book Description

18 Mar 2004
In Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment, Partha Dasgupta explores ways to measure the quality of life. In developing quality-of-life indices, he pays particular attention to the natural environment, illustrating how it can be incorporated, more generally, into economic reasoning in a seamless manner. Professor Dasgupta puts the theory that he develops to use in extended commentaries on the economics of population, poverty traps, global warming, structural adjustment programmes, and free trade, particularly in relation to poor countries. The result is a treatise that goes beyond quality-of-life measures and offers a comprehensive account of the newly emergent subject of ecological economics.

With the publication of this new paperback edition, Professor Dasgupta has taken the opportunity to update and revise his text in a number of ways, including developments to facilitate its current use on a number of gradate courses in environmental and resource economics. The treatment of the welfare economics of imperfect economies has been developed using new findings, and the Appendix has been expanded to include applications of the theory to a number of institutions, and to develop approximate formulae for estimating the value of environmental natural resources.

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highly recommended for policy makers and students of environment and development notably those with an interest in collective action. International donors and multilateral banks with a large portfolio of projects in the water and forestry sectors could also benefit immensely from some of the insights this book provides (Development and Change)

'Building on his classic magnum opus .... Partha Dasgupta has joined this rethink in an intellectually rich, thought-provoking and occasionally metaphysical work. His new book probes many issues beyond those that might be anticipated from the title and confirms his position as one of the most exciting economic thinkers today ... we can ask why so many feel we need reforms in ethical behaviour to ensure sustainability. Dasgupta touches on some of the framework needed to answer this question. More is needed. If anyone is going to supply it is is likely to be Dasgupta.' (Times Higher Education Supplement)

'Professor Dasgupta's latest book is a remarkably comprehensive account of his subject. It seeks out and develops the fundamentals so thoroughly that its methods will have application in many branches of economic evaluation and policy assessment even beyond the environmental aspects that are its primary focus. He moves with ease from deep studies of the meaning of concepts like ''sustainability'' to detailed empirical accounts of environmental damage. It is a book that will be used and consulted for a long time to come.' (Professor Kenneth J. Arrow, Stanford University)

'Partha Dasgupta is one of the deepest thinkers and most powerful analysts in ecological economics. [In this book] he attempts to go beyond measures of current well-being, such as the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme because, as he puts it, "The present is the past's future". His tightly reasoned and carefully presented effort will enrich the thinking of students and professionals in economics, environmental studies, political science, political philosophy, and population studies.' (Professor Joel E. Cohen, Rockefeller University and Columbia University)

'The anthropologist notices that, as a tribe, economists love argument, which means of course that they also love theory and exact measurement. The great economists add to these two loves one more, a passion for justice. Partha Dasgupta adds yet another—-compassion. His understandings of the meaning of poverty and of helpless imprisonment in poverty traps provide a commonsense platform for proposing new measurements and challenging professional assumptions. This is how the book transcends its own formidable proficiency as it initiates the non-professional reader into the idea of social cost benefit.' (Professor Mary Douglas, University College London)

'Concepts like GDP focus on easily measurable things, whilst omitting ecosystem services and other environmental factors on which life ultimately depends. Partha Dasgupta is a seminal figure in his discipline, taking on the difficult, yet hugely important, task of trying meaningfully to measure ''quality of life''. This book will, I hope, set the tone for the new millennium, melding conventional economic concepts, ecological and environmental science, and a great deal of plain commonsense. Read it.' (Lord Robert May, University of Oxford)

Dasgupta raises the most challenging moral questions of our age: Is there a utilitarian foundation for trading off an entire species-habitat for the gratification of the current generation? Are decisions about procreation and the sustenance of ecological systems based strictly on personal morality or based on a broader political ethic? In the process of asking these big questions, he addresses the role of citizenship, civil rights, democracy, and "progress." He explores intergenerational well-being and conflicts. He asks how we do, and how we should value goods. He presents a powerful analysis of the evaluation of policies in imperfect economies. Reading this book is the equivalent of a crash course in political economy and moral philosophy. I wholeheartedly recommend it as one of the most important books of the new millennium. (Professor Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University)

Partha Dasgupta is a very highly regarded economic theorist, and his book shows why. Dasgupta writes more clearly, and in a more accessible manner... than most highly regarded economic theorists. (Journal of Public Policy)

About the Author

Partha Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. A Past President of the Royal Economic Society and of the European Economic Association, Professor Dasgupta is a Fellow of the British Academy, Member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. His publications include An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993).

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The term well-being will be used to denote the equity of life. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book! 6 Jan 2007
By Carlos Orihuela - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is easy to understand. The language is very simple. This book contains the work of Partha Dasgupta and -mainly- Karl Goran Maler during years about several issues, as "genuine investment", "why the NNP is not a good measure to evaluate sustainability?", etc. It is a very good book to understand these issues (and others).
5.0 out of 5 stars top notch 31 May 2013
By systems student - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book on economic theory, but if you don't like digesting the equations, the text explains the ideas well. The book is really thought-provoking and I think it will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the future of the human race.

Dasgupta is an accomplished economic scholar and holds a high position in the English government. His logic is rigorous. In a way, this book reads more like a philosophy book, though.
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics and philosophy of people and their environment 22 Jun 2011
By Matthew Hendryx - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dasgupta reviews and establishes the intellectual foundations for evaluating changes in the environment and the impact on human well-being. He has written extensively on this topic and this book synthesizes that research. He is particularly concerned with the natural resources available to a population. His argument is that as natural resources are depleted human welfare declines even if the day-to-day living of people has not changed. He provides the mathematical and philosophical basis of how to account for such changes. (The math is at a basic level with a smattering of calculus.)

Economists, policy-makers, political theorists, and philosophers are the intended audience, though it is so well written that layman could profitably read the work skipping the math.
Economics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution
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