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Time perspective and climate change policy

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  • Karp, Larry
  • Tsur, Yacov

Abstract

The tendency to foreshorten time units as we peer further into the future provides an explanation for hyperbolic discounting at an inter-generational time scale. We study implications of hyperbolic discounting for climate change policy, when the probability of a climate-induced catastrophe depends on the stock of greenhouse gasses. We characterize the set of Markov perfect equilibria (MPE) of the inter-generational game amongst a succession of policymakers. Each policymaker reflects her generation's preferences, including its hyperbolic discounting. For a binary action game, we compare the MPE set to a "restricted commitment" benchmark. We compare the associated "constant-equivalent discount rates" and the willingness to pay to control climate change with assumptions and recommendations in the Stern Review on Climate Change. "...My picture of the world is drawn in perspective.... I apply my perspective not merely to space but also to time"--Ramsey.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 62 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 1-14

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:62:y:2011:i:1:p:1-14

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

Related research

Keywords: Hyperbolic discounting Markov perfect equilibria Catastrophic climate change Uncertainty;

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References

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  1. Karp, Larry, 2004. "Non-constant discounting in continuous time," CUDARE Working Paper Series 0969, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  2. Tsur, Yacov & Zemel, Amos, 1996. "Accounting for global warming risks: Resource management under event uncertainty," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1289-1305.
  3. Cropper, Maureen L & Aydede, Sema K & Portney, Paul R, 1994. "Preferences for Life Saving Programs: How the Public Discounts Time and Age," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 243-65, May.
  4. Karp, Larry, 2004. "Global Warming and Hyperbolic Discounting," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5zh730nc, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  5. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  6. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 2003. "Consumption--Savings Decisions with Quasi--Geometric Discounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 365-375, January.
  7. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-67, May.
  8. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Ramsey Meets Laibson In The Neoclassical Growth Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1125-1152, November.
  9. Skiba, A K, 1978. "Optimal Growth with a Convex-Concave Production Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 527-39, May.
  10. Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  11. Heal, Geoffrey, 2005. "Intertemporal Welfare Economics and the Environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1105-1145 Elsevier.
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