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Risk-adjusted gamma discounting

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  • Weitzman, Martin L.

Abstract

It is widely recognized that the economics of distant-future events, like climate change, is critically dependent upon the choice of a discount rate. Unfortunately, it is unclear how to discount distant-future events when the future discount rate itself is unknown. In previous work, an analytically-tractable approach called "gamma discounting" was proposed, which gave a declining discount rate schedule as a simple closed-form function of time. This paper extends the previous gamma approach by using a Ramsey optimal growth model, combined with uncertainty about future productivity, in order to "risk adjust" all probabilities by marginal utility weights. Some basic numerical examples are given, which suggest that the overall effect of risk-adjusted gamma discounting on lowering distant-future discount rates may be significant. The driving force is a "fear factor" from risk aversion to permanent productivity shocks representing catastrophic future states of the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Weitzman, Martin L., 2010. "Risk-adjusted gamma discounting," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 1-13, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:60:y:2010:i:1:p:1-13
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Munnich Vass, Miriam & Elofsson, Katarina, 2013. "Is forest sequestration at the expense of bioenergy and forest products cost-effective in EU climate policy to 2050?," Working Paper Series 2013:9, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department Economics.
    3. Wei, Yi-Ming & Mi, Zhi-Fu & Huang, Zhimin, 2015. "Climate policy modeling: An online SCI-E and SSCI based literature review," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 57(PA), pages 70-84.
    4. Weitzman, Martin L., 2011. "Revisiting Fat-Tailed Uncertainty in the Economics of Climate Change," Scholarly Articles 11130443, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "Asset pricing with uncertain betas: A long-term perspective," IDEI Working Papers 752, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    6. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "A theory of rational short-termism with uncertain betas," LERNA Working Papers 12.14.371, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    7. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Sterner, Thomas, 2015. "Discounting and relative consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 19-33.
    8. Hjort, Ingrid, 2016. "Potential Climate Risks in Financial Markets: A Literature Overview," Memorandum 01/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    9. Katz, Yuri A., 2017. "Value of the distant future: Model-independent results," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 466(C), pages 269-276.
    10. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2014. "State-variable public goods and social comparisons," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 390-410.
    11. Christian Gollier, 2012. "Evaluation of Long-Dated Investments under Uncertain Growth Trend, Volatility and Catastrophes," CESifo Working Paper Series 4052, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Armon Rezai & Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2016. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth, and the Role of Damages: Occam's Rule for the Global Carbon Tax," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 493-522.
    13. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 83-90.
    14. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Evaluation of long-dated assets: The role of parameter uncertainty," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 66-83.
    15. Morgenroth, Edgar, 2011. "How Can We Improve Evaluation Methods for Public Infrastructure?," Papers EC2, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    16. 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.
    17. Bond, Craig A. & Iverson, Terrence, 2011. "Modeling Information in Environmental Decision-Making," Western Economics Forum, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 10(02).
    18. Geoffrey Heal & Antony Millner, 2013. "Discounting under Disagreement," NBER Working Papers 18999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Echazu Luciana & Nocetti Diego & Smith William T., 2012. "A New Look into the Determinants of the Ecological Discount Rate: Disentangling Social Preferences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-44, April.
    20. Carl Koopmans & Piet Rietveld, 2013. "Long-term impacts of mega-projects: the discount rate," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Mega-Projects, chapter 14, pages 313-332 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    21. Mark Freeman & Ben Groom, 2015. "Using equity premium survey data to estimate future wealth," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 665-693, November.
    22. Boyarchenko, Svetlana & Levendorskii, Sergei, 2010. "Discounting when income is stochastic and climate change policies," MPRA Paper 27998, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Andrew Meyer, 2013. "Intertemporal Valuation of River Restoration," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(1), pages 41-61, January.
    24. Rick Van der Ploeg & Armon Rezai, 2015. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth and the Role of Damages: Occam's rule for the global tax," Economics Series Working Papers OxCarre Research Paper 15, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Discounting Risk-adjusted Distant future Gamma discounting Climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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