A century of Irish Economic History Through the Lens of Sustainable Development

Economic historians have examined economic development in terms of output growth for decades. However, only limited research has examined economic history through the lens of sustainable development. After a century of Irish independence, our study, published in the European Review of Economic History, compares a sustainability perspective of Ireland’s economic development with the conventional growth-oriented view. The analysis is based on long-run Genuine Savings (GS) measurement. GS is a leading economic indicator of sustainable development based on the concept of Comprehensive Wealth. GS is rooted in neoclassical growth theory and measures the annual change in the total aggregate stock of natural, social, physical, and human capital assets and technological progress. Together these assets are referred to as comprehensive national wealth. Economic theory shows that a reduction in comprehensive wealth (negative GS) implies future well-being must fall and thus offers a signal that an economy is on an unsustainable development path.

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