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The Essentials of Economic Sustainability

John Ikerd
The Essentials of Economic Sustainability
ISBN: 978-1-56549-515-9
ISBN: 978-1-56549-516-6
ISBN: 978-1-56549-518-0
2012/150 pages/LC: 2012000164
A Kumarian Press Book
“Reading [Ikerd's book] has made me understand economic thinking and its potential for promoting sustainability in new and more favorable ways, helping me to better appreciate that 'sustainable capitalism' is not necessarily an oxymoron."—Gil Gillespie, Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

"A fine survey discussing viable alternatives to traditional economic approaches to issues."—James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

"Keeping things simple when speaking on a profoundly complex issue, Professor Ikerd offers us a truly remarkable introduction to the very essence of the sustainability challenge."—Irina Herzon, University of Helsinki

"John Ikerd invites us to learn together while building on his path-breaking scholarship about the economy in a sustainable society. He shows that in a sustainable future the economy must emerge jointly with the essential decisions about environmental, social, and ethical dimensions of the world. John provides many tools to engage us in further learning. This book would be a joy as a teaching resource."—Gerald Campbell, University of Wisconsin, Madison


Though much has been written about the negative impacts of economic development on natural ecosystems and civil societies, few viable alternatives to the prevailing economic paradigms have been suggested. John Ikerd moves the debate forward.

Ikerd outlines the basic principles and concepts essential to economic sustainability. Some of these concepts are capitalist, some are socialist, and others are general principles validated by philosophy or common sense. Putting them together, he proposes something fundamentally different: instead of apocalyptic pronouncements, he offers possibilities. Readers of any political or ideological persuasion will find his brief book engaging, informative, optimistic, and refreshing.


John Ikerd is professor emeritus of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia.


  • The Essential Questions of Economic Sustainability.
  • The Essential Hierarchies of Economic Sustainability.
  • Ecological Principles Essential to Economic Sustainability.
  • Social Principles Essential to Economic Sustainability.
  • Essential Economic Principles of Sustainability.
  • Essential Characteristics of Sustainable Economies.
  • Essential Characteristics of Markets in Sustainable Economies.
  • Essential Functions of Government for Economic Sustainability.
  • The Essential Mission of Sustainable Economies.