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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 intergenerational 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 provide a positive analysis by characterizing the set of Markov perfect equilibria (MPE) of the intergenerational 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

Paper provided by Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series with number qt04k4b21g.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt04k4b21g

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Keywords: hyperbolic discounting; Markov Perfect Equilibria; catastrophic climate change; uncertainty;

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  1. Karp, Larry, 2005. "Global warming and hyperbolic discounting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 261-282, February.
  2. Per Krusell & Anthony A Smith, Jr., 2001. "Consumption Savings Decisions with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000251, David K. Levine.
  3. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-67, May.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Karp, Larry, 2004. "Non-Constant Discounting in Continuous Time," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt7pr05084, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  9. 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.
  10. Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  11. Skiba, A K, 1978. "Optimal Growth with a Convex-Concave Production Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(3), pages 527-39, May.
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