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Discounting and Growth

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  • Christian Gollier

Abstract

In a growing economy, the discount rate to evaluate a long-term investment is the minimum rate of expected return that compensates for the increased intergenerational inequalities. Because the growth rate is uncertain, there is a precautionary argument in favor of lowering the discount rate. If shocks to growth are persistent, this is a robust argument for using a smaller discount rate for more distant time horizons. If climate damages are positively correlated with future consumption, a risk premium should be added to the climate discount rate, which could have an increasing term structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Gollier, 2014. "Discounting and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 534-537, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:5:p:534-37
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.5.534
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
    2. Abel, Andrew B., 2002. "An exploration of the effects of pessimism and doubt on asset returns," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(7-8), pages 1075-1092, July.
    3. Martin L. Weitzman, 2013. "Tail-Hedge Discounting and the Social Cost of Carbon," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 873-882, September.
    4. Christian Gollier, 2008. "Discounting with fat-tailed economic growth," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 171-186, December.
    5. Ravi Bansal & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Risks for the Long Run: A Potential Resolution of Asset Pricing Puzzles," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1481-1509, August.
    6. Larry G. Epstein & Stephen M. Tanny, 1980. "Increasing Generalized Correlation: A Definition and Some Economic Consequences," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 13(1), pages 16-34, February.
    7. Christian Gollier, 2012. "Pricing the Planet's Future: The Economics of Discounting in an Uncertain World," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9894.
    8. 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.
    9. Gollier Christian, 1995. "The Comparative Statics of Changes in Risk Revisited," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 522-535, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfgang Buchholz, 2014. "Discounting in an Uncertain World - Disentangling the Debate on the Weitzman-Gollier Puzzle," CESifo Working Paper Series 4967, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Fesselmeyer, Eric & Liu, Haoming & Salvo, Alberto, 2016. "How Do Households Discount over Centuries? Evidence from Singapore's Private Housing Market," IZA Discussion Papers 9862, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

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