POSTED: June 16, 2017
Economy | System Dynamics

Ecological Economics in action

CUSP at European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE) 2017 Conference Budapest

Budapest, 20-23 June 2017

CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 :: Jorge Quinteros / Flickr

CUSP researches Agni Dikaiou, Sarah Hafner, Simon Mair and Craig Rye to give paper presentations at the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics, introducing their CUSP projects to the ESEE community. The 12th international conference is taking place in Budapest and brings together diverse sets of actors who are engaged in co-producing ecological economics insights and advice for responsible and creative pathways towards sustainability. With a focus on evaluating the first 20 years of ESEE’s work, the conference is focusing on “meaningful participative and mutually empowering activities across disciplines and different knowledge systems” in order to take sustainability science in general and ecological economics in particular to the next level.

Further details about the programme can be accessed on the ESEE conference website. Abstracts of the CUSP papers are listed below.

Dikaiou, A 2017: Labour Productivity at the industry level as a determinant of Job Satisfaction (Presented by Agni Dikaiou)
While global economies focus on continuous productivity growth, the question of whether productivity is positively related to workers’ wellbeing has received less attention. This paper explores this relationship, by examining the effects of industrial labour productivity on job satisfaction in an inter-industry, cross-country analysis. Using an innovative method, data for industrial labour productivity levels in 2009 from the EU KLEMS are matched with data on job satisfaction in 2010 from the European Social Survey (ESS5) for eight European countries. To estimate the relationship, an ordered probit model is employed, regressing job satisfaction on industrial labour productivity and controlling for all other factors that help explain the level of job satisfaction. The findings reveal that the relationship is negative, mainly driven by organizational attitudes and the form of production systems.

Hafner, S 2017: Macro- and socioeconomic impacts of a sustainable economy – Use of system dynamics approach to compare model assumptions on the energy transition in the UK (Presented by Sarah Hafner)
What are optimal policy strategies to “green” the UK macro-economy? And, what are the macroeconomic and socioeconomic consequences of those strategies? As stated in the “Climate Act 2008” framework, the UK aims to reduce its emissions by at least 80% in 2050. In June 2016 the UK confirmed this target and set a 57% target for 2030. Building on the United Nations Paris Agreement (COP 21 in December 2015), climate policy has gained new importance. Therefore, there is currently a large demand among policymakers for analytical tools that show cost-optimal transition paths of the economy. The expected contribution of this study is fourfold: First, it contributes to a better understanding of the system structure of the economy and energy supply sector, which is crucial for the identification of leverage points for policy implementation. Second, it delivers policy recommendations that “green” the energy supply sector of the UK while maximizing the outcome of other important economic objectives. Third, this study demonstrates macroeconomic and socioeconomic costs and benefits of a “green” transformation of the production structure of the economy exemplified by the UK energy supply sector. Finally, this study gives a methodological contribution by providing an analysis of the implications for policy recommendations of certain assumptions of CGE-models (e.g. equilibrium assumption, rational agents).

Mair, S, Jackson, T and Druckman, A 2017: The Future of Work: Lessons from the History of Utopian Thought (Presented by Simon Mair)
There is considerable anxiety about the future of work. Some suggest that work may be ending in affluent economies: either because of automation or stagnation (Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2014). Such issues are especially pressing for ecological economists. If we are to facilitate sustainable economies, we must provide compelling narratives about how we can all live better while consuming and producing less (Jackson, 2016). Recently, questions about work and leisure have been a central focus for ecological economists (Jackson and Victor, 2011, Druckman et al., 2012, Antal, 2014, Buhl and Acosta, 2016), but it remains unclear exactly how work fits into narratives of sustainable prosperity. In this paper we contribute to the development of ecological economics narratives about the future of work. To do this we explore the role given to work by writers of historical utopias. We understand utopias as ideal societies characterised by “the refusal to take at face value current judgements of the good, or claims that there is no alternative”(Levitas, 2007, p. 294). We see utopian ideas of work as reactions to the economic conditions of the society in which the authors of utopias lived. By analysing utopian ideas of work in a way that links the historical economic contexts and modern theories of work, we hope to broaden the future of work debate

Rye, C and Jackson, T 2017: Can Instability Indicators Reveal Interesting Things About The Dynamics Of The Macroeconomy? (Presented by Craig Rye)
This paper explores the use of instability indicators developed in statistical physics to analyse the stability of the GDP within national longitudinal datasets. The work was inspired by an interest in the role of inter-decadal factors which may affect the economic growth rate, including debt overhang and a decline in the quality of physical resources. Two particular indicators – the autocorrelation (AR1) and the variance – were found to be particularly useful. These indicators were first derived for the Maddison-Project dataset, which includes almost a century of data for some 80 countries and almost two centuries of data (1820-2010) for 9 countries. Further, they were applied to ~50 years (1960-2015) of recent annual per capita GDP data for around 130 countries from the World Bank dataset. Finally, they were applied to ~60 years (1955-2015) of recent quarterly per capita GDP data, for about 20 countries, taken from OECD data. Analysis of these historical GDP data highlights interesting inter-decadal patterns of instability. The most commonly occurring pattern of instability is significantly found in ~70% of the observed high GDP economies. It is characterised by an increase in instability from the 1900s to 1940s, a decline in instability between the 1930s and the 1970s, then a further increase in instability from the 1960s to 2010. Consistent with this pattern, a general increase in instability (as measured by the two indicators) is observed since ~1950 for 70% of high GDP economies in recent GDP datasets. From these early results, it is suggested that these novel instability indicators may provide invaluable insights into the inter-decadal dynamics of the macro-economy, providing potentially useful insights into (e.g.) the nature of the business cycle, secular stagnation and the restoring forces of the economy. Increasing our understanding of the long-run dynamics of the macro-economy is timely, particularly considering the immediate need for effective policy tools to tackle environmental concerns. The dynamics of the macro-economy and economic-stability may be central concerns for facilitating the transition to an environmentally sustainable economy.

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