Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Bioeconomic modeling from the 1950s to the 1970s: diverging legacies of an innovative interdisciplinary methodology

Parent Baptiste, CIRED

The first bioeconomic model emerged in fishery science with the work of economist H. S. Gordon and biologist M. B. Schaefer in the 1950s. Although the Gordon-Schaefer model is traditionally viewed as an interdisciplinary methodological innovation, it actually took some time to develop into a true bioeconomic modeling tradition. Based on a thorough examination of the early development of the method in the period from 1954 to 1976, we show that several methods emerged that aimed to generalize the analysis to other resources and expand its capabilities. However, we show that two paradigmatic reappropriations of the original model can be distinguished, which differ greatly in terms of the interdisciplinary nature of the method. On the one hand, conventional resource economics, embodied in the work of Vernon Smith in the late 1960s, crystallized Schaefer's rather restrictive biological model of production as the invariant biological basis for resource economic models. On the other hand, the contribution of Colin Clark, a mathematician and outsider to economics, laid the foundation for a broader development of bioeconomic modeling methodology by symmetrizing the roles of economics and biology in the models and making the coupling between the models flexible.


Keywords: Bioeconomics; Resource Economics; Renewable Resources; Capital Theory; Fisheries Economics

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