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Intergenerational Equity And The Discount Rate For Policy Analysis

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Abstract

For two independent principles of intergenerational equity, the implied discount rate equals the growth rate of real per capita income, say, 2%, thus falling right into the range suggested by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. To prove this, we develop a simple tool to evaluate small policy changes affecting several generations, by reducing the dynamic problem to a static one. A necessary condition is time invariance, which is satisfied by any common solution concept in an overlapping-generations model with exogenous growth. This tool is applied to derive the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis under two different utilitarian welfare functions: classical and relative. It is only with relative utilitarianism, and assuming time-invariance of the set of alternatives (policies), that the discount rate is well defined for a heterogeneous society at a balanced growth equilibrium, is corroborated by an independent principle equating values of human lives, and equals the growth rate of real per-capita income.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Haifa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number WP2011/4.

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Length: 33
Date of creation:
Date of revision: 01 Jun 2011
Publication status: published in Macroeconomic Dynamics
Handle: RePEc:haf:huedwp:wp201104

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Keywords: Overlapping Generations; Policy Reform; Intergenerational Equity; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Discount Rate; Utilitarianism;

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References

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  1. MERTENS, Jean-François & RUBINCHIK, Anna, 2009. "Regularity and stability of equilibria in an overlapping generations model with exogenous growth," CORE Discussion Papers 2009005, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Anna Rubinchik & Jean-Francois Mertens, 2008. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," 2008 Meeting Papers 874, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Asheim, Geir B. & Mitra, Tapan & Tungodden, Bertil, 2006. "Sustainable recursive social welfare functions," Memorandum 18/2006, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  4. Graciela Chichilnisky, 1996. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 231-257, April.
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  6. Fleurbaey, Marc & Michel, Philippe, 2003. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 777-802, September.
  7. T. J. Kehoe & D. K. Levine, 1983. "Regularity in Overlapping Generations Exchange Economies," Working papers 314, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. S. Demichelis & H. Polemarchakis, 2007. "The determinacy of equilibrium in economies of overlapping generations," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 461-475, September.
  9. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
  10. Asheim, G.B., 1989. "Unjust Intergenerational Allocations," Papers 09-89, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
  11. Mishan, E J, 1971. "Evaluation of Life and Limb: A Theoretical Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 687-705, July-Aug..
  12. Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with InterGenerational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1557-1563, 09.
  13. Amrita Dhillon & Jean-Francois Mertens, 1999. "Relative Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 471-498, May.
  14. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The "Stern Review" on the Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 12741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Gale, David, 1973. "Pure exchange equilibrium of dynamic economic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 12-36, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Jean-François Mertens & Anna Rubinchik, 2013. "Equilibria in an overlapping generations model with transfer policies and exogenous growth," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 54(3), pages 537-595, November.

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