IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Climate Change And Overlapping Generations




This paper examines the interplay between discounting and the distribution of welfare between generations in formulating climate change response strategies. The analysis shows that one can understand Nordhaus's (1994) standard representative agent model for climate policy analysis as a reduced form of an overlapping generations model that embodies more realistic demographic assumptions. In this setting, alternative Pareto efficient allocations may be supported as competitive equilibria given appropriate sets of income transfers between generations. Numerical simulations establish that increased intergenerational transfers entail reduced monetary discount rates and increased rates of greenhouse gas emissions abatement. Short-run policy choices are highly sensitive to normative judgments concerning the relative weight attached to the welfare of future generations. Copyright 1996 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Howarth, 1996. "Climate Change And Overlapping Generations," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 100-111, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:14:y:1996:i:4:p:100-111

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen A. Marglin, 1963. "The Social Rate of Discount and The Optimal Rate of Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 95-111.
    2. Abel, Andrew B & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "Fiscal Policy with Impure Intergenerational Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1687-1711, November.
    3. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    4. Alan P. Kirman, 1992. "Whom or What Does the Representative Individual Represent?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    5. Marini Giancarlo & Scaramozzino Pasquale, 1995. "Overlapping Generations and Environmental Control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 64-77, July.
    6. Jeffrey A. Kolb & Joel D. Scheraga, 1990. "Discounting the benefits and costs of environmental regulations," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(3), pages 381-390.
    7. Michel, Philippe, 1990. "Some Clarifications on the Transversality Condition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 705-723, May.
    8. Solow, Robert M, 1974. "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 1-14, May.
    9. Burton Peter S., 1993. "Intertemporal Preferences and Intergenerational Equity Considerations in Optimal Resource Harvesting," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 119-132, March.
    10. William D. Nordhaus, 1993. "Reflections on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 11-25, Fall.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dalton, Michael & O'Neill, Brian & Prskawetz, Alexia & Jiang, Leiwen & Pitkin, John, 2008. "Population aging and future carbon emissions in the United States," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 642-675, March.
    2. Michael Toman, 1998. "Research Frontiers in the Economics of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 603-621, April.
    3. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:17:y:2004:i:7:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Kolstad, Charles D. & Toman, Michael, 2005. "The Economics of Climate Policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1561-1618 Elsevier.
    5. Mouez Fodha & Thomas Seegmuller & Hiroaki Yamagami, 2014. "Environmental Policies under Debt Constraint," Working Papers halshs-01023798, HAL.
    6. Emilio Padilla, 2002. "Limitations and biases of conventional analysis of climate change. Towards an analysis coherent with sustainable development," Working Papers wp0206, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    7. Kavuncu, Y. Okan & Knabb, Shawn D., 2005. "Stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions: Assessing the intergenerational costs and benefits of the Kyoto Protocol," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 369-386, May.
    8. Sumaila, Ussif R. & Walters, Carl, 2005. "Intergenerational discounting: a new intuitive approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 135-142, January.
    9. Escapa García, Marta & Ansuategui Cobo, José Alberto & Pérez, Azucena, 2003. "International and Intergenerational Dimensions of Climate Change: North-South Cooperation in an Overlapping Generations Framework," IKERLANAK 2003-06, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    10. Toman, Michael & Shogren, Jason, 2000. "Climate Change Policy," Discussion Papers dp-00-22, Resources For the Future.
    11. Volker Böhm & Tomoo Kikuchi & George Vachadze, 2008. "Asset Pricing and Productivity Growth: The Role of Consumption Scenarios," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 163-181, September.
    12. Richard Howarth, 2000. "Climate Change and the Representative Agent," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 15(2), pages 135-148, February.
    13. Toman, Michael & Lile, Ron & King, Dennis, 1998. "Assessing Sustainability: Some Conceptual and Empirical Challenges," Discussion Papers dp-98-42, Resources For the Future.
    14. Verchère, Alban, 2011. "Le développement durable en question : analyses économiques autour d’un improbable compromis entre acceptions optimiste et pessimiste du rapport de l’Homme à la Nature," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 87(3), pages 337-403, septembre.
    15. Kavuncu, Yusuf Okan & Knabb, Shawn D., 2001. "An Intergenerational Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt72v881dd, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    16. Neumayer, Eric, 1999. "Global warming: discounting is not the issue, but substitutability is," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 33-43, January.
    17. Uk Hwang & Francesco Magris, 2005. "Intergenerational Conflicts and the Resource Policy Formation of a Short-Lived Government," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(III), pages 437-457, September.
    18. J.K. Horowitz, 2002. "Preferences in the Future," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(3), pages 241-258, March.
    19. Ansuategi, Alberto & Escapa, Marta, 2002. "Economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 23-37, January.
    20. Camilla Froyn, 2005. "Decision Criteria, Scientific Uncertainty, and the Globalwarming Controversy," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 183-211, April.
    21. KAVUNCU Y. Okan, "undated". "Reconsidering Intergenerational Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change: An Endogenous Abatement Approach," EcoMod2003 330700079, EcoMod.
    22. Lugovoy, O. & Polbin, A., 2016. "On Intergenerational Distribution of the Burden of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 12-39.
    23. Liu, Liqun, 2012. "Inferring the rate of pure time preference under uncertainty," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 27-33.
    24. Alberto Ansuategi & Marta Escapa, 2004. "Is international cooperation on climate change good for the environment?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 17(7), pages 1-11.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:14:y:1996:i:4:p:100-111. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.