IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/cup/jbcoan/v4y2013i01p1-16_00.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

More appropriate discounting: the rate of social time preference and the value of the social discount rate

Author

Listed:
  • Moore, Mark A.
  • Boardman, Anthony E.
  • Vining, Aidan R.

Abstract

Recently, a number of authors, including Burgess and Zerbe, have recommended the use of a real social discount rate (SDR) in the range of 6–8% in benefit-cost analysis (BCA) of public projects. They derive this rate based on the social opportunity cost of capital (SOC) method. In contrast, this article argues that the correct method is to discount future impacts based on the rate of social time preference (STP). Flows in or out of private investment should be multiplied by the shadow price of capital (SPC). Using this method and employing recent United States data, we obtain an estimate of the rate of STP of 3.5% and an SPC of 2.2. We also re-estimate the SDR using the SOC method and conclude that, even if analysts continue to use this method, they should use a considerably lower rate of about 5%.

Suggested Citation

  • Moore, Mark A. & Boardman, Anthony E. & Vining, Aidan R., 2013. "More appropriate discounting: the rate of social time preference and the value of the social discount rate," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-16, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jbcoan:v:4:y:2013:i:01:p:1-16_00
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.cambridge.org/core/product/identifier/S219458880000052X/type/journal_article
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christian Gollier & Phoebe Koundouri & Theologos Pantelidis, 2008. "Declining discount rates: Economic justifications and implications for long-run policy [‘Regime switches in interest rates’]," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23(56), pages 758-795.
    2. Mirrlees, J. A. & Stern, N. H., 1972. "Fairly good plans," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 268-288, April.
    3. Michael Spackman, 2004. "Time discounting and of the cost of capital in government," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 25(4), pages 467-518, December.
    4. David J. Evans, 2005. "The elasticity of marginal utility of consumption: estimates for 20 OECD countries," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 26(2), pages 197-224, June.
    5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 215-268, November.
    6. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
    7. Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Prosperity and Depression: 2002 Richard T. Ely Lecture," Working Papers 618, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    8. Bradford, David F, 1975. "Constraints on Government Investment Opportunities and the Choice of Discount Rate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 887-899, December.
    9. David F. Burgess & Richard O. Zerbe, 2013. "Appropriate discounting for benefit–cost analysis," Chapters, in: Scott O. Farrow & Richard Zerbe, Jr. (ed.), Principles and Standards for Benefit–Cost Analysis, chapter 7, pages 247-263, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39, July.
    11. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters, in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton University Press.
    12. Rothstein, Jesse & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 2011. "Constrained after college: Student loans and early-career occupational choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 149-163.
    13. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Discounting the distant future: how much do uncertain rates increase valuations?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 52-71, July.
    14. Stephen A. Marglin, 1963. "The Opportunity Costs of Public Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 274-289.
    15. Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Prosperity and Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 1-15, May.
    16. Arrow, Kenneth J. & Cropper, Maureen L. & Gollier, Christian & Groom, Ben & Heal, Geoffrey M. & Newell, Richard G. & Nordhaus, William D. & Pindyck, Robert S. & Pizer, William A. & Portney, Paul R. & , 2012. "How Should Benefits and Costs Be Discounted in an Intergenerational Context? The Views of an Expert Panel," Discussion Papers dp-12-53, Resources For the Future.
    17. Mark A. Moore & Anthony E. Boardman & Aidan R. Vining & David L. Weimer & David H. Greenberg, 2004. "“Just give me a number!” Practical values for the social discount rate," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4), pages 789-812.
    18. Clive R Belfield & Milagros Nores & Steve Barnett & Lawrence Schweinhart, 2006. "The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program: Cost–Benefit Analysis Using Data from the Age-40 Followup," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
    19. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
    20. Erhun Kula, 1984. "Derivation of Social Time Preference Rates for the United States and Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 873-882.
    21. Burgess, David F. & Zerbe, Richard O., 2011. "Appropriate Discounting for Benefit-Cost Analysis," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 1-20, April.
    22. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
    23. Anthony E. Boardman & Mark A. Moore & Aidan R. Vining, 2010. "The Social Discount Rate for Canada Based on Future Growth in Consumption," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 36(3), pages 325-343, September.
    24. Hepburn, Cameron J. & Koundouri, Phoebe, 2007. "Recent advances in discounting: Implications for forest economics," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 169-189, August.
    25. John B. Shoven & Michael Topper, 1992. "The Cost of Capital in Canada, the United States, and Japan," NBER Chapters, in: Canada-U.S. Tax Comparisons, pages 217-236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. David Evans & Haluk Sezer, 2004. "Social discount rates for six major countries," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(9), pages 557-560.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Nin-Pratt, Alejandro & Magalhaes, Eduardo, 2018. "Revisiting rates of return to agricultural R&D investment:," IFPRI discussion papers 1718, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Anthony E. Boardman & Mark Moore & Aidan Vining, 2020. "Financing and Funding Approaches for Establishment, Governance and Regulatory Oversight of the Canadian Northern Corridor," SPP Research Papers, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, vol. 13(25), October.
    3. Moore, Mark A. & Boardman, Anthony E. & Vining, Aidan R., 2013. "The choice of the social discount rate and the opportunity cost of public funds," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 401-409, December.
    4. Spackman, Michael, 2021. "Social discounting and the cost of public funding in practice," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 111490, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Therese Grijalva & Jayson Lusk & W. Shaw, 2014. "Discounting the Distant Future: An Experimental Investigation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 59(1), pages 39-63, September.
    6. Arian Daneshmand & Esfandiar Jahangard & Mahnoush Abdollah-Milani, 2018. "A time preference measure of the social discount rate for Iran," Journal of Economic Structures, Springer;Pan-Pacific Association of Input-Output Studies (PAPAIOS), vol. 7(1), pages 1-10, December.
    7. James Broughel, 2020. "Cost-Benefit Analysis as a Failure to Learn from the Past," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 35(Spring 20), pages 105-113.
    8. Vining, Aidan R. & Moore, Mark A., 2017. "Potash ownership and extraction: Between a rock and a hard place in Saskatchewan," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 71-80.
    9. Burgess David F. & Zerbe Richard O., 2013. "The most appropriate discount rate," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 4(3), pages 391-400, December.
    10. Akbulut, Hale & Seçilmiş, Erdem, 2019. "Estimation of a social discount rate for Turkey," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 78-85.
    11. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Paul N. Riskind, 2017. "Deterrence and the Optimal Use of Prison, Parole, and Probation," NBER Working Papers 23436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Akbulut, Hale & Seçilmiş, Erdem, 2019. "Estimation of a social discount rate for Turkey," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 78-85.
    2. Mareike Schad & Jürgen John, 2012. "Towards a social discount rate for the economic evaluation of health technologies in Germany: an exploratory analysis," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 13(2), pages 127-144, April.
    3. Moore, Mark A. & Boardman, Anthony E. & Vining, Aidan R., 2013. "The choice of the social discount rate and the opportunity cost of public funds," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 401-409, December.
    4. Davidson, Marc D., 2014. "Zero discounting can compensate future generations for climate damage," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 40-47.
    5. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. 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.
    7. Knoke, Thomas & Paul, Carola & Härtl, Fabian, 2017. "A critical view on benefit-cost analyses of silvicultural management options with declining discount rates," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 58-69.
    8. Lawrence H. Goulder & Roberton C. Williams, 2012. "The Choice Of Discount Rate For Climate Change Policy Evaluation," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(04), pages 1-18.
    9. David F. Burgess & Richard O. Zerbe, 2013. "Appropriate discounting for benefit–cost analysis," Chapters, in: Scott O. Farrow & Richard Zerbe, Jr. (ed.), Principles and Standards for Benefit–Cost Analysis, chapter 7, pages 247-263, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Raúl Castro & Jorge Armando Rueda Gallardo, 2020. "Estimación Empírica de la Tasa Social de Descuento Estudio de Caso Bolivia," Documentos CEDE 018020, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    11. Freeman, Mark C., 2009. "Yes, we should discount the far-distant future at its lowest possible rate: a resolution of the Weitzman-Gollier puzzle," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-42, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    12. Anthony E. Boardman & Aidan R. Vining, 2010. "Assessing the Economic Worth of Public–Private Partnerships," Chapters, in: Graeme A. Hodge & Carsten Greve & Anthony E. Boardman (ed.), International Handbook on Public–Private Partnerships, chapter 8, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. & Botzen, W.J.W., 2015. "Monetary valuation of the social cost of CO2 emissions: A critical survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 33-46.
    14. Tol, Richard S.J. & Yohe, Gary W., 2009. "The Stern Review: A deconstruction," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1032-1040, March.
    15. George Economides & Dimitris Papageorgiou & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2020. "Macroeconomic policy lessons for Greece," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 152, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
    16. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben, 2016. "How certain are we about the certainty-equivalent long term social discount rate?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 152-168.
    17. Kollenberg, Sascha & Taschini, Luca, 2016. "Emissions trading systems with cap adjustments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 20-36.
    18. Stephanie MacLeod & Yves Filion, 2012. "Issues and Implications of Carbon-Abatement Discounting and Pricing for Drinking Water System Design in Canada," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 26(1), pages 43-61, January.
    19. David Anthoff & Richard Tol, 2009. "The Impact of Climate Change on the Balanced Growth Equivalent: An Application of FUND," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 351-367, July.
    20. Monika Foltyn-Zarychta & Rafał Buła & Krystian Pera, 2021. "Discounting for Energy Transition Policies—Estimation of the Social Discount Rate for Poland," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 14(3), pages 1-21, January.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:cup:jbcoan:v:4:y:2013:i:01:p:1-16_00. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://www.cambridge.org/bca .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Keith Waters (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.cambridge.org/bca .

    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.