Evaluation of two trends in environmental economics: the neoclassical school and the economics of survival
It is possible to evaluate the main schools of thought in environmental economics
based on a stylized view of sustainable development. This view considers that is sustainable
the development that assures: at least the maintenance of the level of well-being of the current
generation of inhabitants of the first world; an increase in the well-being of the present
generation inhabiting the poor countries; and, the ability of the future generations to maintain
or improve their well-being. ln principle, a school of thought in environmental economics should
consider these three aspects; however, some emphasize one, others stress another of these aspects.
Based on a framework founded on the above concept of sustainable development, the paper
presents an evaluation of two of these schools of thought: neoclassical environmental economics, emphasizing the short term and industrialized market economies; and a school which could be
termed the economy of survival, emphasizing the very long term. It begins with a discussion of
the recent insertion of the environmental dimension in economics, follows with a review of the
concept of sustainable development, which is adapted for the evaluation. It concludes with a
discussion of the main contribution of the two schools, and of the main contrasts between them.
JEL Classification: B29; B21; B59; Q50.
Keywords: Ecological economics sustainable development history of economic thought