Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society
Volume 7 (2002), Issue 2, Pages 79-92

Sustainable economic growth and exhaustible resources: A model and estimation for the US

Almuth Scholl1 and Willi Semmler2,3

1Department of Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
2Center of Empirical Macroeconomics, Bielefeld, Germany
3New School University, NY, USA

Received 14 April 2001

Copyright © 2002 Almuth Scholl and Willi Semmler. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper studies current models on sustainable economic growth with resource constraints and explores to what extent resource constraints can be overcome by substitution and technological change. We also study the problem of intergenerational equity and the different criteria that have been suggested in the literature. The central part of this paper is the presentation of stylized facts on exhaustible resources and an estimation of a basic model with resource constraints for US time series data. The estimated years left until depletion and the empirical trends of the ratios of capital stock and consumption to resources seem to indicate that there might be a threat to sustainable growth in the future. In our estimation, we obtain parameter values, which help to interpret the extent to which growth with exhaustible resources is sustainable.