Measuring the sustainability of a national economy. The application of three measures of sustainability to Ireland.

Robin Curry, Cathy Maguire, Jim Baird


An assessment of the sustainability of the Irish economy has been carried out using three methodologies, enabling comparison and evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each, and potential synergies among them. The three measures chosen were economy-wide Material Flow Analysis (MFA), environmentally extended input-output (EE-IO) analysis and the Ecological Footprint (EF). The research aims to assess the sustainability of the Irish economy using these methods and to draw conclusions on their effectiveness in policy making both individually and in combination. A theoretical description discusses the methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages and sets out a rationale for their combined application. The application of the methods in combination has provided insights into measuring the sustainability of a national economy and generated new knowledge on the collective application of these methods. The limitations of the research are acknowledged and opportunities to address these and build on and extend the research are identified. Building on previous research, it is concluded that a complete picture of sustainability cannot be provided by a single method and/or indicator.

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