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Recursive Sustainability: Intertemporal Efficiency and Equity

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  • Knapp, Keith C.
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    Abstract

    PV-optimality in a capital-resource economy can imply decreasing utility over some portion of the time horizon. Various criteria have been proposed to maintain intergenerational equity defined as nondeclining utility, but these have some limitations and problems. This paper proposes a new welfare criteria incorporating present value to maintain efficiency, and an equity function with convex costs on declining utility. This criterion is economically efficient, time-consistent and recursive. An extension of dynamic programming to multiple value functions is developed to solve this problem. Increasing the equity weight increasingly eliminates declining portions of utility time paths. Sustainability implies increasing consumption in the early time periods and some intermediate time periods relative to PV-optimality. A surprising result is that sustainability can actually result in increased resource usage in early time periods, followed later by higher levels of resource stocks compared to PV-optimality. The sustainability analysis shows that while conventional benefit-cost and valuation analysis contribute to efficiency, they do not necessarily induce sustainability due to incorrect dynamic GE prices. Similar comments apply to Green NNP analysis. The concepts and extended DP methods developed in this paper extend naturally to uncertainty and can also be applied to generalized consumer and social choice models beyond those typically considered in the literature.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA with number 21472.

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    Date of creation: 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea06:21472

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    Keywords: growth; environment; intergenerational equity; dynamic programming; Research Methods/ Statistical Methods;

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    1. John C. V. Pezzey, 1997. "Sustainability Constraints versus "Optimality" versus Intertemporal Concern, and Axioms versus Data," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(4), pages 448-466.
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    8. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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    12. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    13. Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
    14. Lozada, Gabriel A., 1995. "Resource depletion, national income accounting, and the value of optimal dynamic programs," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 137-154, August.
    15. Stavins, Robert N. & Wagner, Alexander F. & Wagner, Gernot, 2003. "Interpreting sustainability in economic terms: dynamic efficiency plus intergenerational equity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 339-343, June.
    16. Asheim, Geir B, 1988. "Rawlsian Intergenerational Justice as a Markov-Perfect Equilibrium in a Resource Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 469-83, July.
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