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Discounting the Long-Distant Future: A Simple Explanation for the Weitzman-Gollier-Puzzle

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  • Wolfgang Buchholz
  • Jan Schumacher

Abstract

In this paper, we reconsider the debate on Weitzman's (1998) suggestion to discount the long-run future at the lowest possible rate, referring to Gollier (2004) and Hepburn & Groom (2007). We show that, while Weitzman's use of the present value approach may indeed seem questionable, its outcome, i.e. a discount rate that is declining over time, is nevertheless reasonable, since it can be justified by assuming a plausible degree of risk aversion.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2008/wp-cesifo-2008-07/cesifo1_wp2357.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2357.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2357

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Related research

Keywords: discount rates; uncertainty; risk aversion;

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References

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  1. Hepburn, Cameron & Groom, Ben, 2007. "Gamma discounting and expected net future value," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-109, January.
  2. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
  3. David J. Evans, 2005. "The elasticity of marginal utility of consumption: estimates for 20 OECD countries," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 26(2), pages 197-224, June.
  4. Jan Schumacher & Wolfgang Buchholz, 2008. "Discounting and Welfare Analysis Over Time: Choosing the ç," CESifo Working Paper Series 2230, CESifo Group Munich.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gollier, Christian, 2014. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," TSE Working Papers 14-499, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  2. GOLLIER Christian, 2008. "Expected net present value, expected net future value, and the Ramsey rule," LERNA Working Papers 08.29.273, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
  3. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Should we Discount the Far-Distant Future at its Lowest Possible Rate?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 3(25), pages 1-14.
  4. Gollier, Christian, 2014. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," IDEI Working Papers 828, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  5. Christian Gollier, 2008. "Discounting with fat-tailed economic growth," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 171-186, December.
  6. Mark C. Freeman & Ben Groom & Ekaterini Panopoulou & Theologos Pantelidis, 2013. "Declining discount rates and the Fisher Effect: Inflated past, discounted future?," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 109, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  7. Christian Gollier & Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "How Should the Distant Future be Discounted when Discount Rates are Uncertain?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2863, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Freeman, Mark C., 2009. "Yes, we should discount the far-distant future at its lowest possible rate: a resolution of the Weitzman-Gollier puzzle," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-42, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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