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Discounting under uncertainty: Disentangling the Weitzman and the Gollier effect

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  • Traeger, Christian P.

Abstract

The uncertainty of future economic development affects the term structure of discount rates and, thus, the intertemporal weights that are to be used in cost benefit analysis. The U.K. and France have recently adopted a falling term structure to incorporate uncertainty and the U.S. is considering a similar step. A series of publications discusses the following concern: a seemingly analogous argument used to justify falling discount rates can also justify increasing discount rates. We show that increasing and decreasing discount rates mean different things, can coexist, are created by different channels through which risk affects evaluation, and have the same qualitative effect of making long-term payoffs more attractive.

Suggested Citation

  • Traeger, Christian P., 2013. "Discounting under uncertainty: Disentangling the Weitzman and the Gollier effect," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 573-582.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:66:y:2013:i:3:p:573-582 DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2013.07.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gollier, Christian, 2010. "Expected net present value, expected net future value, and the Ramsey rule," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 142-148, March.
    2. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Should we Discount the Far-Distant Future at its Lowest Possible Rate?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-14.
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    5. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
    6. Gollier, Christian & Weitzman, Martin L., 2010. "How should the distant future be discounted when discount rates are uncertain?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 350-353, June.
    7. Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
    8. Gollier, Christian, 2004. "Maximizing the expected net future value as an alternative strategy to gamma discounting," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 85-89, June.
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    10. repec:hrv:faseco:33373345 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfgang Buchholz, 2014. "Discounting in an Uncertain World - Disentangling the Debate on the Weitzman-Gollier Puzzle," CESifo Working Paper Series 4967, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Kollenberg, Sascha & Taschini, Luca, 2016. "Emissions trading systems with cap adjustments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 20-36.
    3. Rickels, Wilfried & Dovern, Jonas & Hoffmann, Julia & Quaas, Martin & Schmidt, Jörn & Visbeck, Martin, 2015. "Indicators for monitoring sustainable development goals: An application to oceanic development in the EU," Kiel Working Papers 2019, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben & Panopoulou, Ekaterini & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2015. "Declining discount rates and the Fisher Effect: Inflated past, discounted future?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 32-49.
    5. 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, pages 493-522.
    6. Moritz Drupp & Mark Freeman & Ben Groom & Frikk Nesje, 2015. "Discounting disentangled: an expert survey on the determinants of the long-term social discount rate," GRI Working Papers 196a, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    7. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 83-90.
    8. Borissov, Kirill & Pakhnin, Mikhail & Puppe, Clemens, 2017. "On discounting and voting in a simple growth model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 185-204.
    9. Matthew Adler & Nicolas Treich, 2015. "Prioritarianism and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(2), pages 279-308, October.
    10. 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.

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