Inequality as an obstacle to sustainable development: the case of Western Australia

Mark Andrich

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    [Truncated abstract] The three major components of sustainable development are generally recognised to be a functioning economy, a healthy environment, and a society that meets its needs without compromising the ability of others and future generations to meet their own needs. Studies from a range of disciplines have acknowledged that the extreme form of the exploitation of the environment by modern Western society is not sustainable in the long term. Many indices of sustainable development use average or median values; however, the present generation is not homogeneous in its income and in its use of resources. Therefore, indicators of sustainable development may be different for these different income levels. In this thesis sustainable development is modelled from the perspective of the economy, the environment, and society separated into three household income groups; the 'poor', 'average-wealth' and 'rich', with their respective incomes characterised specifically by incomes at the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentile levels. The observation that sustainable development may need to be considered from the perspective of income levels has arisen because in many countries over the past 30 years or so, there has been an increase in the disparity between the income of the poor and the rich. Therefore it was hypothesised that measuring sustainable development from the perspective of poor households would provide different insights into sustainable development of economic and environmental indicators compared to measuring sustainable development from the perspective of the rich and average-wealth households. Because of its geographic isolation, a strong economy with increasing exploitation of mineral resources, a large agricultural sector, a high household use of energy resources, growing income inequality, and reliable data sources, the Australian state of Western Australia (WA) was chosen as an ideal study site for this research.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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