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Intergenerational Equity And The Discount Rate For Policy Analysis

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  • Mertens, Jean-François
  • Rubinchik, Anna

Abstract

For two independent principles of intergenerational equity, the implied discount rate equals the growth rate of real per capita income, say, 2%, thus falling right into the range suggested by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. To prove this, we develop a simple tool to evaluate small policy changes affecting several generations, by reducing the dynamic problem to a static one. A necessary condition is time invariance, which is satisfied by any common solution concept in an overlapping-generations model with exogenous growth. This tool is applied to derive the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis under two different utilitarian welfare functions: classical and relative. It is only with relative utilitarianism, and assuming time-invariance of the set of alternatives (policies), that the discount rate is well defined for a heterogeneous society at a balanced growth equilibrium, is corroborated by an independent principle equating values of human lives, and equals the growth rate of real per-capita income.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Macroeconomic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 16 (2012)
Issue (Month): 01 (February)
Pages: 61-93

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Handle: RePEc:cup:macdyn:v:16:y:2012:i:01:p:61-93_00

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  1. Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with InterGenerational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1557-1563, 09.
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  7. Gale, David, 1973. "Pure exchange equilibrium of dynamic economic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 12-36, February.
  8. Mertens, Jean-François & Rubinchik, Anna, 2008. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," CORE Discussion Papers 2008077, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  13. MERTENS, Jean-François & RUBINCHIK, Anna, 2009. "Regularity and stability of equilibria in an overlapping generations model with exogenous growth," CORE Discussion Papers 2009005, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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Cited by:
  1. Mertens, Jean-Francois & Rubinchik, Anna, 2012. "Equilibria in an overlapping generations model with transfer policies and exogenous growth," Working Papers WP2012/5, University of Haifa, Department of Economics, revised 05 Mar 2012.

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