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Discounting and the Time Preference Rate

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  • JOHN CREEDY
  • ROSS GUEST

Abstract

This paper provides an analytical review of the evaluation of alternative time streams of consumption and the closely related concept of time preference. The potential sensitivity of comparisons, especially to the choice of time preference rate and elasticity of marginal valuation, is demonstrated. The nature of time preference, based on an axiomatic approach, is then discussed. The analysis of optimisation over time leads to the concept of the social time preference rate, and a difficulty with using this rate is highlighted. Approaches giving rise to declining discount rates over time are discussed, including alternative welfare functions and the role of uncertainty. This is followed by a critique of methods used to 'estimate' a time preference rate. Finally, complications introduced by non-income differences between individuals are examined. Emphasis is placed on the central role of value judgements. Copyright © 2008 The Economic Society of Australia.

Suggested Citation

  • John Creedy & Ross Guest, 2008. "Discounting and the Time Preference Rate," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(264), pages 109-127, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecorec:v:84:y:2008:i:264:p:109-127
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    Cited by:

    1. Yohe, Gary W. & Tol, Richard S. J. & Anthoff, David, 2009. "Discounting for Climate Change," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-22.
    2. John Creedy & Hemant Passi, 2017. "Public Sector Discount Rates: A Comparison of Alternative Approaches," Treasury Working Paper Series 17/02, New Zealand Treasury.
    3. Alberto Bucci & Chiara Del Bo, 2009. "On the interaction between public investment and private capital in economic growth," UNIMI - Research Papers in Economics, Business, and Statistics unimi-1092, Universitá degli Studi di Milano.
    4. Christine Carmody, 2012. "Considering future generations - sustainability in theory and practice," Economic Roundup, The Treasury, Australian Government, issue 3, pages 65-91, October.
    5. David EVANS & Erhun KULA, 2009. "Social discount rates and welfare weights for public investment decisions under budgetary restrictions – the case of Cyprus," Departmental Working Papers 2009-19, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    6. Ferda Halicioglu & Cevat Karatas, 2011. "Estimation of Economic Discounting Rate for Practical Project Appraisal: The Case of Turkey," Journal of Developing Areas, Tennessee State University, College of Business, vol. 45(1), pages 155-166, July-Dece.

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