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On the energy content of a money unit

Bernard C. Beaudreau, Vladimir N. Pokrovskii

posted on 14 July 2010

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In this paper, the concept of "productive energy" as a substitute for conventional labour is examined historically, theoretically and empirically. Over the course of the last centuries, productive energy has been substituted for human, muscle- and brain-based work, providing the wherewithal for the phenomenal growth in material wealth in Western societies. In this era of rising energy costs and increasing energy scarcity, future growth appears to be compromised. To better understand the consequences for society, estimates of the energy content of a dollar's worth of output are provided for the US and Russia.