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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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Bibliographic Info

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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Cited by:
  1. Christoph Heinzel, 2014. "Term structure of discount rates under multivariate s-ordered consumption growth," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 14-01, INRA UMR SMART.
  2. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "Asset pricing with uncertain betas: A long-term perspective," IDEI Working Papers 752, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Gollier, Christian, 2013. "A theory of rational short-termism with uncertain betas," TSE Working Papers 13-389, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Boyarchenko, Svetlana & Levendorskii, Sergei, 2010. "Discounting when income is stochastic and climate change policies," MPRA Paper 27998, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. 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.
  8. Joachim Fuenfgelt & Stefan Baumgaertner, 2012. "A utilitarian notion of responsibility for sustainability," Working Paper Series in Economics 234, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  9. Jouini, Elyès & Napp, Clotilde & Nocetti, Diego, 2013. "On multivariate prudence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 1255-1267.
  10. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Sterner, Thomas, 2013. "Discounting and Relative Consumption," Working Papers in Economics 559, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. Kögel, Tomas, 2009. "On the Relation between Dual-Rate Discounting and Substitutability," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-10, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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