Title

How Should We Measure Sustainable Income?

Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Date

5-1-1995

CFDP Number

1101

CFDP Pages

32

Abstract

Growing concerns about long-run economic growth have led to calls for measures of “sustainable income.” Traditional analyses rely on Hicksian income, which is consumption plus net investment. The present paper shows that Hicksian income corresponds to sustainable income only under implausibly limited circumstances. We define sustainable income and estimate its magnitude for the United States. The analysis and empirical estimates indicate, first, that consumption has historically been far below sustainable income; second, that conventional Hicksian measures of national income are poor proxies for sustainable income; and, third, that the true savings rate has declined significantly in the last two decades.

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