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Public and Private Sector Discount Rates in Public-Private Partnerships

  • Paul A. Grout

    (University of Bristol)

Whether public sector projects should be discounted at a lower rate than private sector projects is highly contentious. This paper assesses the appropriate private and public sector discount rates in the context of public private partnerships. It shows that there are powerful arguments for using a higher rate to discount private projects than public sector projects and that failure to recognise this may lead to excessive reliance on public provision. However, the reason for the divergence is not related to the conventional incomplete market arguments in the literature. The results may have far broader implications for private sector involvement in public services. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2003

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 113 (2003)
Issue (Month): 486 (March)
Pages: C62-C68

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:113:y:2003:i:486:p:c62-c68
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  1. Sandmo, Agnar & Dreze, Jacques H, 1971. "Discount Rates for Public Investment in Closed and Open Economies," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 38(152), pages 395-412, November.
  2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  3. Arrow, Kenneth J & Lind, Robert C, 1970. "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 364-78, June.
  4. John Bennett & Elisabetta Iossa, 2004. "Building and Managing Facilities for Public Services," Public Policy Discussion Papers 02-08, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  5. Oliver Hart, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts and Public Ownership: Remarks, and an Application to Public-Private Partnerships," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages C69-C76, March.
  6. Brealey, R A & Cooper, I A & Habib, M A, 1997. "Investment Appraisal in the Public Sector," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(4), pages 12-28, Winter.
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