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Ecological Discounting

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  • GOLLIER Christian

Abstract

Which rates should we use to discount costs and benefits of different natures at different time horizons? We answer this question by considering a representative agent consuming two goods whose availability evolves over time in a stochastic way. We extend the Ramsey rule by taking into account the degree of substitutability between the two goods and of the uncertainty surrounding the economic and environmental growths. The rate at which environmental impacts should be discounted is in general different from the one at which monetary benefits should be discounted. We provide arguments in favor of an ecological discount rate smaller than the economic discount rate. In particular, we show that, under certainty and Cobb-Douglas preferences, the difference between the economic and the ecological discount rates equals the difference between the economic and the ecological growth rates. Using data about the link between biodiversity and economic development, I estimate that the rate at which changes in biodiversity should be discounted is 1.5%, whereas changes in consumption should be discounted at 3.2%.

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Paper provided by LERNA, University of Toulouse in its series LERNA Working Papers with number 08.18.262.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ler:wpaper:08.18.262

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  8. Ekaterini Panopoulou & Ben Groom & Phoebe Koundouri & Theologos Pantelidis, 2004. "An Econometric Approach To Estimating Long-Run Discount Rates," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 70, Royal Economic Society.
  9. Louis Eeckhoudt & Harris Schlesinger, 2005. "Putting Risk in its Proper Place," CESifo Working Paper Series 1462, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Weikard, Hans-Peter & Zhu, Xueqin, 2005. "Discounting and environmental quality: When should dual rates be used?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 868-878, September.
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  13. Paul R. Milgrom, 1979. "Good Nevs and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Discussion Papers 407R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  15. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Time Horizon and the Discount Rate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 463-473, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Sterner, Thomas, 2013. "Discounting and Relative Consumption," Working Papers in Economics 559, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. W. Botzen & Jeroen Bergh, 2014. "Specifications of Social Welfare in Economic Studies of Climate Policy: Overview of Criteria and Related Policy Insights," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(1), pages 1-33, May.
  3. Defrancesco, Edi & Gatto, Paola & Rosato, Paolo, 2014. "A ‘component-based’ approach to discounting for natural resource damage assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 1-9.
  4. Christoph Heinzel, 2014. "Term structure of discount rates under multivariate s-ordered consumption growth," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 14-01, INRA UMR SMART.
  5. Jouini, Elyès & Napp, Clotilde & Nocetti, Diego, 2013. "On multivariate prudence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 1255-1267.
  6. Gollier, Christian, 2013. "A theory of rational short-termism with uncertain betas," TSE Working Papers 13-389, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  7. Jianli Wang & Pu Gong, 2013. "Labor supply with stochastic wage rate and non-labor income uncertainty," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 109(1), pages 41-55, May.
  8. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "Asset pricing with uncertain betas: A long-term perspective," IDEI Working Papers 752, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  9. Kögel, Tomas, 2009. "On the Relation between Dual-Rate Discounting and Substitutability," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-10, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  10. M. Gallastegui & M. González-Eguino & I. Galarraga, 2012. "Cost effectiveness of a combination of instruments for global warming: a quantitative approach for Spain," SERIEs, Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 111-132, March.
  11. Joachim Fuenfgelt & Stefan Baumgaertner, 2012. "A utilitarian notion of responsibility for sustainability," Working Paper Series in Economics 234, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  12. Stefan Baumgaertner & Alexandra M. Klein & Denise Thiel & Klara Winkler, 2013. "Ramsey discounting of ecosystem services," Working Paper Series in Economics 281, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  13. Boyarchenko, Svetlana & Levendorskii, Sergei, 2010. "Discounting when income is stochastic and climate change policies," MPRA Paper 27998, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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