Globalisation and Sustainable Development

University of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 399

38 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2003

See all articles by Alessandro Vercelli

Alessandro Vercelli

University of Siena - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 2003


This paper addresses the question whether the features of the post-war process of globalisation are consistent with the social and environmental requirements of sustainable development. To this end the post-war period is articulated in two phases: the Bretton Wood period (1945-1971) and the "Washington Consensus" period (1980-2000), separated by a brief period of transition. The empirical evidence discussed in this paper suggests that the inequality between countries slightly increased throughout the period according to most measurement techniques, while inequality within OECD countries diminished in many cases in the Bretton Woods period while increased in the Washington Consensus period. On the contrary, many indexes of environmental deterioration worsened in the Bretton Woods period and improved in the Washington Consensus period although this positive tendency has recently petered out, sometimes reversed, in consequence of a widespread weakening of environmental policies. Our conclusion is that post-war globalisation cannot be considered fully sustainable in any of the two periods considered, although for different reasons. However it is argued that the process of globalisation could, and should, be made sustainable through structural interventions, some of which are briefly discussed.

Keywords: globalisation, sustainable development, inequality, Kuznets curves

JEL Classification: F02, F15, F43, O13, O15

Suggested Citation

Vercelli, Alessandro, Globalisation and Sustainable Development (September 2003). University of Siena Economics Working Paper No. 399, Available at SSRN: or

Alessandro Vercelli (Contact Author)

University of Siena - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza S. Francesco, 7
Siena, I-53100

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