The Economics of Non-Convex Ecosystems

  • Partha Dasgupta
  • Karl-Göran Mäler
Conference proceedings

Part of the The Economics of Non-Market Goods and Resources book series (ENGO, volume 4)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-v
  2. Partha Dasgupta, Karl-Göran Mäler
    Pages 1-27
  3. Jérôme Chave, Simon Levin
    Pages 29-59
  4. W. A. Brock, D. Starrett
    Pages 77-104
  5. Karl-Göran Mäler, Anastasios Xepapadeas, Aart De Zeeuw
    Pages 105-126
  6. Kenneth J. Arrow, Partha Dasgupta, Karl-Göran Mäler
    Pages 149-187
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 188-188

About these proceedings


Economists all too often assume that ecosystem and population dynamics are subject to convex (even linear) processes. However, research by ecosystem and population ecologists has shown that the processes in question are very often non-convex. This has important implications for environmental and resource economics. Typically, a system under study or being managed would contain multiple basins of attraction. So the system would flip from one basin to another if a "threshold" (mathematically, a bifurcation) were crossed. Furthermore, the flip could be irreversible. But even if it were reversible, the system could well display hysteresis. The latter eventuality means that in order to entice the system to return to its original basin of attraction, a different and possibly costly path has to be traced. A mistake in management may then be a lot more costly than envisaged. An example would be a possible flip of the Gulf Stream owing to fresh water intrusion from melting glaciers during global warming.


Sustainable Development accounting prices development ecosystem imperfect economies irreversibility non-convexity optimization

Editors and affiliations

  • Partha Dasgupta
    • 1
  • Karl-Göran Mäler
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsCambridge UniversityCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Beijer International Institute of Ecological EconomicsRoyal Swedish Academy of SciencesStockholmSweden

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4020-1864-0
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4020-2515-0
  • Series Print ISSN 1571-487X
  • Buy this book on publisher's site