Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The Research Landscape of Sustainability Economics

91 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2020 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020

See all articles by Moritz A. Drupp

Moritz A. Drupp

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences

Stefan Baumgärtner

University of Freiburg - Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Moritz Meyer

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Martin F. Quaas

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

Henrik von Wehrden

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Date Written: July 3, 2019

Abstract

We survey the emerging research area of sustainability economics through a quantitative full-text analysis of peer-reviewed journal publications from 1987 to 2013. To identify relevant contributions, we draw on established definitions of sustainability economics for a keyword-based identification strategy: a combined focus on (a) the human-nature relationship, (b) the long-term uncertain future, (c) normative orientation towards sustainability, and (d) economic analysis. Our analysis of a random subsample of 343 relevant papers reveals that (i) sustainability economics is a rapidly developing research area; (ii) while theoretical contributions shaped the area in earlier years, applied work now constitutes the largest share of contributions; (iii) the research landscape can be clustered into eleven research clusters. These range from participatory governance of social-ecological systems associated with the work of Elinor Ostrom to questions of intertemporal allocation and distribution applied to climate economics associated with the work of William Nordhaus; (iv) the research area is broad in scope and heterogeneous, and there is relatively little interaction between important clusters; (v) relevant contributions are published in more than 100 journals. Ten journals publish half of all contributions, lead by Ecological Economics, and 40 percent appear in non-economics journals, underscoring the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue.

Keywords: sustainability, economics, human–nature relationship, uncertainty, future, justice, literature, bibliographic analysis, vocabulary

JEL Classification: A12, A14, B40, Q01, D63

Suggested Citation

Drupp, Moritz A. and Baumgärtner, Stefan and Meyer, Moritz and Quaas, Martin F. and von Wehrden, Henrik, Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The Research Landscape of Sustainability Economics (July 3, 2019). Ecological Economics, Vol. 172, No. 106620, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3503315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3503315

Moritz A. Drupp

University of Hamburg - Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 9
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

Stefan Baumgärtner (Contact Author)

University of Freiburg - Department of Environment and Natural Resources ( email )

Tennebacher Str. 4
Freiburg, 79106
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.ere.uni-freiburg.de

Moritz Meyer

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Wilschenbrucher Weg 69
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Martin F. Quaas

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig ( email )

Deutscher Platz 5e
Leipzig, 04103
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.idiv.de/bioecon

Henrik Von Wehrden

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

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