Discounting in Cost-benefit Analysis
AbstractThere is much disagreement about the discount rate. The prescriptive approach derives the discount rate from utility functions, growth models and ethical considerations. The descriptive approach stresses the opportunity cost of capital, but struggles to define which market rates to average. Both use social (shadow) discount rates to compensate for capital market distortions. Others propose discount rates declining through time. This paper argues that it is wrong to use shadow discount rates because they cannot ensure the efficient allocation of public funds nor correct for capital market distortions. Instead the marginal cost of public sector funds should be used for discounting and the shadow price of capital should be used to adjust for distortions. No other discount rate will lead to correct cost-benefit analysis results. This paper argues that discounting and inter-temporal distribution weighting are not equivalent, and that the former is required for correct cost-benefit analysis results. It argues further that discount rates should not be declining; and that the requirements for robustness of conclusions and the partial equilibrium nature of cost-benefit analysis limit the scope of its applicability.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary in its journal Society and Economy.
Volume (Year): 33 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Note: I am grateful to Elio Londero, whose many questions and doubts helped to focus and improve the arguments presented.
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.akkrt.hu
Postal: Akadémiai Kiadó Zrt., Prielle K. u. 21-35. Budapest, 1117, Hungary
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
- H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Andrea Pók).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.