Frequent references are made to the ‘Asian economic miracle’ as a means of describing the wave of GDP growth experienced across the Asia-Pacific region over the past twenty years. Implicit in this description is the assumption that the Asia-Pacific region has progressed at the same rate that GDP has risen over the same period. But is this truly the case? Employing a Genuine Progress Indicator as an alternative measure of sustainable welfare, the contributors to this book aim to answer this question by presenting case studies of seven Asia-Pacific nations. The results reveal that all is not as positive as conventional indicators might suggest.
The book shows that the three wealthy nations – Australia, New Zealand, and Japan – have long reached a level of GDP beyond which further growth is detrimental to their sustainable welfare while the four poorer nations – China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam – are fast approaching a similar situation, but at much lower per capita levels of sustainable welfare. In view of these results, it is argued that genuine progress in the Asia-Pacific region requires the wealthy nations to focus on qualitative improvement (development) rather than GDP growth. As for the poorer nations, it is argued that population stabilisation demands urgent attention while the GDP growth required over the next two to three decades must be as clean, efficient, and equitable as possible.
Sustainable Welfare in the Asia-Pacific will appeal to a wide audience of academics and researchers in the areas of ecological, environmental and natural resource economics, development, green national accounting, and environmental management. It will also find a readership in policymakers, environmental managers and NGOs, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.