‘Smart Development’. An Essay on a New Political Economy of the Environment

174 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2016

See all articles by Arno Tausch

Arno Tausch

University of Innsbruck - Department of Political Science; Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration

Date Written: March 22, 2016


In this book, we present a first empirical reflection on ‘smart development’, its measurement and its possible ‘drivers’ and ‘bottlenecks’. The very idea of ‘smart development’ was first proposed by Meadows (1992) and has not been really followed up to now in social science ever since. We first provide cross-national data, how much ecological footprint is used in the nations of the world system to ‘deliver’ a given amount of democracy, economic growth, gender equality, human development, research and development, and social cohesion. To this end, we first developed UNDP-type performance indicators from current standard international comparative, cross-national social science data on these six main dimensions of development and on the combined performance on the six dimensions (a UNDP type ‘human development index plus’). We then show the non-linear standard OLS regression trade-offs between ecological footprints per capita and their square on these six components of development and the overall super-UNDP development performance index, derived from them. The residuals from these regressions are our new measures of smart development: a country experiences smart development, if it achieves a maximum of democracy, economic growth, gender equality, human development, research and development, and social cohesion, and the combination of them with a minimum of ecological footprint.

We then look at the cross-national drivers and bottlenecks of this ‘smart development’, using standard comparative cross-national data, which operationalize standard economic, sociological and political science knowledge in international development accounting. We compare the predictive power of these standard predictors, using standard OLS stepwise regression procedures, based on IBM SPSS XXII. Apart from important variables and indicators, derived from sociological dependency and world systems theories, we also test the predictive power of other predictors as well, ranging from geography and achieved development levels to the clash of civilization models, feminist theories, migration theories, and the ‘small is beautiful paradigm’ in the tradition of Schumacher. Our estimates underline the enormous importance of the transfer of resources from the centre to the periphery, brought about by migration, with huge statistical observed positive effects of received worker remittances on smart human development, Happy Life Years, smart gender justice, smart R&D, and both formulations of the smart development index.

Finally, we take up an issue, which has been very prominent in recent global public health debate. Following the path-breaking articles by Wilkinson and associates, income inequality has a very detrimental effect on life quality. But life quality also depends in a non-linear fashion from environmental data. Thus, the Wilkinson research agenda finds its proper place also in debates about ‘smart development’, but certainly, the weight of other variables, such as

• Membership in the Islamic Conference

• military expenditures per GDP

• Muslim population share per total population

• public education expenditure per GNP

• UNDP education index

• worker remittance inflows as % of GDP

also has to be properly taken into account.

Keywords: Index Numbers and Aggregation, Environment and Development, International Migration, Remittances

JEL Classification: C43, Q56, F22, F24

Suggested Citation

Tausch, Arno, ‘Smart Development’. An Essay on a New Political Economy of the Environment (March 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2752988 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2752988

Arno Tausch (Contact Author)

University of Innsbruck - Department of Political Science ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 15
Innsbruck, Tirol 6020

Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration ( email )

Budapest H-1093

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