Growth or environmental concern: which comes first? Optimal control with pure stock pollutants
Journal article, 1999

© 1999, Springer Japan. This paper models an economy with a stock pollution problem that must choose between productive and environmental investments. Both increase consumption, but only the former leads to economic growth. An optimal control model is solved giving four different paths depending on the initial parameters. For small values of pollution maximizing economic growth is optimal; and for massive pollution all investments are dedicated to environmental abatement. Similarly, the role of discount and savings rates, the relative profitability of abatement and productive investments, and the length of the time horizon are analyzed. Optimal control models simple enough to solve analytically often give intuitively unsatisfactory, boundary-type solutions. Our model, however, does have a large domain of parameter values for which “interior” solutions are optimal. These may start with a period of exclusive productive or environmental investments and then switch over to a mix of investments that corresponds to real-life expectations.

Stock pollutant

Environmental investments


Optimal control

Application of the Pontryagin maximum principle


Kjell Holmåker

Department of Mathematics

University of Gothenburg

T. Sterner

Environmental Economics and Policy Studies

1432-847X (ISSN)

Vol. 2 3 167-185

Subject Categories

Other Social Sciences



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