Welfare Foundations of Discounting
AbstractWe investigate whether temporal preferences expressed as a sum of discounted consumption utilities can be derived from a welfare representation in the form of a sum of discounted total utilities. We find that a consumption-based representation in the usual exponential form corresponds to one-period "altruism" towards one's future selves: the current self gives positive weight to her total utility in the next period, and weight zero to her total utility in all subsequent periods. We also find that a consumption-based representation in the quasi-exponential (ß,d)-form suggested by Phelps and Pollak (1968) and Laibson (1997) correspond to quasi-exponential altruism towards one's future selves. For ß=1/2, the welfare weights are exponential, while for ß 1/2 in favor of one's future selves. More generally, we establish a functional equation which relates welfare weights to consumption-utility weights. We also postulate five desiderata for consumption-utility weights. None of the usual formalizations satisfy all desiderata, but we propose a simple formalization which does.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 572.
Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 23 Jan 2002
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Altruism; Discounting; Dynamic Inconsistency; Time Inconsistency; Welfare ;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
- D91 - Microeconomics - - Intertemporal Choice and Growth - - - Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
- E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomics: Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2002-02-10 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Barro, Robert J., 1974.
"Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?,"
3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
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