Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The research landscape of sustainability economics

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


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 existing 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, led by Ecological Economics, and 40% appear in non-economics journals, underscoring the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue.

ZeitschriftEcological Economics
Anzahl der Seiten17
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.06.2020