Economics serving society

Actor Behaviors and Public Regulation

The environmental transition involves many individuals and organizations with complex behavioral traits, diverse viewpoints and conflicting interests, feeding complex political processes. Too often approached through the prism of the production model, these transitions must be studied by putting the actors back at the center of the analysis.

We study household behavior in collaboration with cognitive science and psychology, particularly with respect to growing environmental awareness and attitudes toward policy instruments, diets and transportation patterns, and socially responsible investment and consumption. The environmental transition will be facilitated and accelerated, if not made possible, if consumer behaviors and preferences shift to increase demand for green goods and services, increase acceptability of paying the costs of the transition, but also seize the new opportunities enabled by these changes. Labor supply choices will be increasingly guided by the environmental strategy of companies. Financial and insurance market players will have to play their part in the environmental transition.

Companies will also be at the center of research that will concern corporate social responsibility as well as structural changes in production networks, innovation strategies, competition from digital platforms and telework.

All these questions require the conceptual framework of national accounting to be confronted with the broader issue of welfare assessment. National accounting must also make a more meaningful contribution to the assessment of the sustainability of development. More thought needs to be given to the measurement of sustainable development. The theory indicates how measures of net savings can be relevant, but the conditions for applying the theory are far from being met, and a reflection on the development or use of long-term scenarios for estimating the value of current stocks would be worthwhile, in connection with the efforts of climate researchers. Taking biodiversity into account raises major difficulties and its purely “instrumental” integration into the anthropocentric theory of sustainable development is being questioned.