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The human actor in ecological-economic models

Janssen, M.A. and W. Jager
2000 Ecological Economics 35(3).

Journal Articles

Psychological factors affecting market dynamics: the role of uncertainty and need satisfaction

Janssen, M.A. and W. Jager

2000 Advances in Complex Systems 3: 323-334.


Markets can show different types of dynamics, ranging from stable markets dominated by one or a few products, to fluctuating markets where products are frequently being replaced by new versions. This paper explores the dynamics of markets from a psychological perspective using a multi-agent simulation model. The behavioural rules of the artificial consumers, the consumats, are based on a conceptual meta-theory from psychology. The artificial consumers have to choose each period between different products. Products remain on the market for as long as their market share exceeds a minimum level. If not, it will be replaced by a new product.

Simulation experiments are being performed with a population of consumats having different preferences. Results show that the dominating type of cognitive (choice) process has large consequences for the resulting market dynamics. Moreover, the size of the social network affects the market dynamics too.

Keywords: social networks; consumer behaviour; market dynamics.


A dynamic integrated analysis of truck tyres in Western Europe

van Beukering, P.J.H. and M.A. Janssen

2000 Journal of Industrial Ecology 4(2): 93-115.


By evaluating tires from a perspective of industrial metabolism, potential novel and practical ways to reduce their environmental impact can be found. This may be achieved by focusing on technological issues such as choosing materials, designing products, and recovering materials, or by looking at institutional and social barriers and incentives such as opening waste markets or changing consumer behavior. A model is presented for the life cycle of truck tires in Western Europe that is dynamic in nature and values both environmental and economic consequences. Various scenarios are simulated including longer tire lifetimes, better maintenance of tire pressure, increased use of less-expensive Asian tires, and increased use of fuel efficiency-enhancing tires (“eco-tires”). Tentative results indicate that, among other things, more than 95% of the overall environmental impact during the life of a tire occurs during the use of the tire, due to the impact of tires on automotive fuel efficiency. Better maintenance of tire pressure and use of eco-tires produce greater environmental and economics benefits than more-durable and/or less-expensive (Asian) tires. These results imply that the emphasis in environmental policies related to tires should shift from the production and the waste stages to the consumption stage. It also suggests that the focus on materials throughput and associated improvements through factor 4 or factor 10 advances in reduction in mass are less important than the quality of the tires and their management.


The human actor in ecological-economic models

Janssen, M.A and W. Jager ( Editorial)

2000 Ecological Economics 35(3): 307-310.

Behaviour in commons dilemmas: Homo Economicus and Homo Psychologicus in an ecological-economic model

Jager W., M.A. Janssen, H.J.M. De Vries, J. De Greef and C.A.J. Vlek

2000 Ecological Economics 35(3): 357-380.


In mainstream economy, behaviour is often formalised following the rational actor-approach. However, in real life the behaviour of people is typified by multidimensional optimisation. To realise this, people engage in cognitive processes such as social comparison, imitation and repetitive behaviour (habits) so as to efficiently use their limited cognitive resources. A multi-agent simulation program is being developed to study how such micro-level processes affect macro-level outcomes. Sixteen agents are placed in a micro-world, consisting of a lake and a gold mine. Each agent’s task is to satisfy its personal needs by fishing and/or mining, whereby they find themselves in a commons dilemma facing the risk of resource depletion. Homo economicus and Homo psychologicus are formalised to study the effects of different cognitive processes on the agents’ behaviour. Results show that for the H. psychologicus the transition from a fishing to a mining society is more complete than for the H. economicus. Moreover, introducing diversity in agents’ abilities causes the H. economicus on the average to decrease its time spent working, whereas for the H. psychologicus we observe an increase in the time spent working. These results confirm that macro-level indicators of sustainability, such as pollution and fish-harvest, are strongly and predictably affected by behavioural processes at the micro-level. It is concluded that the incorporation of a micro-level perspective on human behaviour within integrated models of the environment yields a better understanding and eventual management of the processes involved in environmental degradation.

Keywords: Commons dilemma; Resource; Consumat; Simulation; Multi-agent; Dynamics; Psychology.


An adaptive agent model for analysing co-evolution of management and policies in a complex rangeland system

Janssen, M.A., B. Walker, J. Langridge and N. Abel

2000 Ecological Modelling 131(2/3): 249-268.


This paper describes an adaptive agent model of rangelands based on concepts of complex adaptive systems. The behavioural and biological processes of pastoralists, regulators, livestock, grass and shrubs are modelled as well as the interactions between these components. The evolution of the rangeland system is studied under different policy and institutional regimes that affect the behaviour and learning of pastoralists, and hence the state of the ecological system. Adaptive agent models show that effective learning and effective ecosystem management do not necessarily coincide and can suggest potentially useful alternatives to the design of policies and institutions.

Keywords: Complex adaptive systems; Ecosystem management; Rangelands; Adaptive agents.


Greenhouse gas emissions in an equity-, environment- and service-oriented world: an IMAGE-based scenario for the 21st century

Vries, B. de, J. Bollen, L. Bouwman, M. den Elzen, M. Janssen, E. Kreileman and R. Leemans

2000 Technological Forecasting and Social Change 62 (2/3):137-174.


This article describes a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenario for a world that chooses collectively and effectively to pursue service-oriented economic prosperity while taking into account equity and environmental concerns, but without policies directed at mitigating climate change. After peaking around 2050 at 2.2 times the 1990 level of primary energy use, a number of factors lead to a primary energy use rate at the end of the next century that is only 40% higher than the 1990 rate. Among these factors are a stabilizing (and after 2050, declining) population, convergence in economic productivity, dematerialization and technology transfer, and high-tech innovations in energy use and supply. Land use-related emissions show a similar trend. Total CO2 emissions peak at 12.8 CtC/yr around 2040, after which they start falling off. Other GHG emissions show a similar trend. The resulting CO2-equivalent concentration continues to rise to about 600 ppmv in 2100. Present understanding of climate change impacts suggest that even in this world of high-tech innovations in resource use in combination with effective global governance and concern about equity and environment issues, climate policy is needed if mankind is to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system.


Climate change policy targets and the role of technological change

Janssen, M.A. and H.J.M. de Vries

2000 Climatic Change 46 (1/2): 1-28.


In this paper, we present results of simulationexperiments with the TIME-model on the issue ofmitigation strategies with regard to greenhouse gases.The TIME-model is an integrated system dynamics worldenergy model that takes into account the fact that the systemhas an inbuilt inertia and endogenouslearning-by-doing dynamics, besides the more commonelements of price-induced demand response and fuelsubstitution. First, we present four scenarios tohighlight the importance of assumptions on innovationsin energy technology in assessing the extent to whichCO2 emissions have to be reduced. The inertia ofthe energy system seems to make a rise ofCO2 emissions in the short term almostunavoidable. It is concluded that for the populationand economic growth assumptions of the IPCC IS92ascenario, only a combination of supply- anddemand-side oriented technological innovations incombination with policy measures can bring the targetof CO2-concentration stabilization at 550 ppmv bythe year 2100 within reach. This will probably beassociated with a temporary increase in the overallenergy expenditures in the world economy. Postponingthe policy measures will be more disadvantageous,and less innovation in energy technology will happen.



International Material-Product Chains: an alternative perspective on international trade and trade theories

van Beukering, P.J.H., J.C.J.M. van den Bergh, M.A. Janssen and H. Verbruggen
2000 Tinbergen Institute discussion paper TI 2000-034/3.


The relationship between trade and material flows is examined by viewing the global economy from the perspective of international material-product chains (MPC). The international MPC covers the complete lifecycle of a material or a product in two or more regions, including extraction, production, consumption, waste management and transport. Products, waste, and associated material flows in the international MPC can run vertically or horizontally between segments. It is demonstrated how differences in factor requirements across segments of the international MPC in combination with factor productivity differences across developed and developing countries can cause specific trade patterns of inter-industry and intra-industry flows of materials and products. The implications of considering various trade theories in the context of the idea of an international MPC are examined. This interpretation of international trade sheds a new light especially on the physical dimension of international specialisation.

Keywords: International material-product chains; Trade theories; Environmental policy; Recycling.


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