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Ecological discounting

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  • Gollier, Christian

Abstract

Which rates should we use to discount costs and benefits of different natures at different time horizons? We answer this question by considering a representative agent consuming two goods whose availability evolves over time in a stochastic way. We extend the Ramsey rule by taking into account the degree of substitutability between the two goods and of the uncertainty surrounding the economic and environmental growths. The rate at which environmental impacts should be discounted is in general different from the one at which monetary benefits should be discounted. We provide arguments in favor of an ecological discount rate smaller than the economic discount rate. In particular, we show that, under certainty and Cobb-Douglas preferences, the difference between the economic and the ecological discount rates equals the difference between the economic and the ecological growth rates. Using data about the link between biodiversity and economic development, I estimate that the rate at which changes in biodiversity should be discounted is 1.5%, whereas changes in consumption should be discounted at 3.2%.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 145 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 812-829

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:145:y:2010:i:2:p:812-829

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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Keywords: Discounting Ramsey rule Bivariate utility function Prudence Sustainable development;

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References

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  1. Christian Gollier, 2005. "The Consumption-Based Determinants of the Term Structure of Discount Rates," CESifo Working Paper Series 1375, CESifo Group Munich.
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  7. Traeger, Christian P, 2007. "Sustainability, limited substitutability and non-constant social discount rates," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1045, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
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  9. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Time Horizon and the Discount Rate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 463-473, December.
  10. Roger Guesnerie, 2004. "Calcul économique et développement durable," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 55(3), pages 363-382.
  11. EECKHOUDT, Louis & SCHLESINGER, Harris, . "Putting risk in its proper place," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1871, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  13. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
  14. Ekaterini Panopoulou & Ben Groom & Phoebe Koundouri & Theologos Pantelidis, 2004. "An Econometric Approach To Estimating Long-Run Discount Rates," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 70, Royal Economic Society.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Boyarchenko, Svetlana & Levendorskii, Sergei, 2010. "Discounting when income is stochastic and climate change policies," MPRA Paper 27998, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "Asset pricing with uncertain betas: A long-term perspective," IDEI Working Papers 752, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Jouini, Elyès & Napp, Clotilde & Nocetti, Diego, 2013. "On multivariate prudence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 1255-1267.
  4. Defrancesco, Edi & Gatto, Paola & Rosato, Paolo, 2014. "A ‘component-based’ approach to discounting for natural resource damage assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 1-9.
  5. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "A theory of rational short-termism with uncertain betas," LERNA Working Papers 12.14.371, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
  6. Jianli Wang & Pu Gong, 2013. "Labor supply with stochastic wage rate and non-labor income uncertainty," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 109(1), pages 41-55, May.
  7. W. Botzen & Jeroen Bergh, 2014. "Specifications of Social Welfare in Economic Studies of Climate Policy: Overview of Criteria and Related Policy Insights," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(1), pages 1-33, May.
  8. Kögel, Tomas, 2009. "On the Relation between Dual-Rate Discounting and Substitutability," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-10, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  9. Stefan Baumgaertner & Alexandra M. Klein & Denise Thiel & Klara Winkler, 2013. "Ramsey discounting of ecosystem services," Working Paper Series in Economics 281, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  10. M. Gallastegui & M. González-Eguino & I. Galarraga, 2012. "Cost effectiveness of a combination of instruments for global warming: a quantitative approach for Spain," SERIEs, Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 111-132, March.
  11. Christoph Heinzel, 2014. "Term structure of discount rates under multivariate s-ordered consumption growth," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 14-01, INRA UMR SMART.
  12. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Sterner, Thomas, 2011. "Discounting and Relative Consumption," Discussion Papers dp-11-38, Resources For the Future.
  13. Joachim Fuenfgelt & Stefan Baumgaertner, 2012. "A utilitarian notion of responsibility for sustainability," Working Paper Series in Economics 234, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.

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