Knowledge, Input-Output Complexity and the Notion of Sustainability

Urban Sušnik, Andrej Sušjan, Nevenka Hrovatin


The paper attempts to synthesize the analytical nucleus of classical political economy and modern ecological economics. In essence this means making a connection between social issues of income distribution, accumulation of capital and economic growth with biophysical limits to economic development. We first model a simple growing system of production and explore its potential to maintain sustainability when using a single natural resource. Taking into consideration the laws of thermodynamics we show that the long-term sustainability of such a simple system is unlikely. When the model is extended to incorporate a wider range of inputs used and commodities produced, such complexity accompanied by knowledge-based structural changes provides necessary conditions for the long-run sustainability of a growing economic system. Since input-output complexity results from the division of labour on the one hand and from intentional R&D policies on the other, this conclusion also brings forward some policy implications regarding income distribution in the society.

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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