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Overlapping Generations or Infinitely-Lived Agents: Intergenerational Altruism and the Economics of Global Warming

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  • GUNTER Stephan

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  • GEORG MÜLLER-FÜRSTENBERGER

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  • PASCAL Previdoli

    ()

Abstract

Do we need an overlapping generations model for the economics of global warming? To answer this question, an infinitely-lived agent (ILA) approach and an overlapping generations (OLG) model are contrasted. ILA and OLG can be viewed as polar representations of intergenerational altruism. With ILA an immortal agent acts through his investment/savings decisions as trustee on the behalf of the future generations. With OLG, agents need not behave altruistic. They simply save during working years and dissave completely during retirement. Nevertheless, ILA and OLG must not differ in their implication for greenhouse policy. Greenhouse gas abatement is a straightforward alternative to physical capital formation and, even without altruism, each age cohort has an incentive to provide current abatement in order to reduce future damages attributable to climate change. Indeed, under reasonable assumptions and parameter values, our simulations reveal such an invariance result. Provided carbon taxes are the only policy tool and tax revenues are recycled through socially mandated rules, projections of economic growth, climate change and energy consumption are only insignificantly affected by the choice of approach. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Suggested Citation

  • GUNTER Stephan & GEORG MÜLLER-FÜRSTENBERGER & PASCAL Previdoli, 1997. "Overlapping Generations or Infinitely-Lived Agents: Intergenerational Altruism and the Economics of Global Warming," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(1), pages 27-40, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:10:y:1997:i:1:p:27-40
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1026479106896
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dalton, Michael & O'Neill, Brian & Prskawetz, Alexia & Jiang, Leiwen & Pitkin, John, 2008. "Population aging and future carbon emissions in the United States," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 642-675, March.
    2. Maik T. Schneider & Christian Traeger & Ralph Winkler, 2010. "Trading Off Generations: Infinitely-Lived Agent Versus OLG," Diskussionsschriften dp1007, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    3. Gerlagh, Reyer & Lise, Wietze, 2005. "Carbon taxes: A drop in the ocean, or a drop that erodes the stone? The effect of carbon taxes on technological change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 241-260, August.
    4. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:17:y:2004:i:7:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Escapa García, Marta & Ansuategui Cobo, José Alberto & Pérez, Azucena, 2003. "International and Intergenerational Dimensions of Climate Change: North-South Cooperation in an Overlapping Generations Framework," IKERLANAK 2003-06, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    6. Reyer Gerlagh & Marjan W. Hofkes, 2004. "Time Profile of Climate Change Stabilization Policy," Working Papers 2004.139, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    7. Garau, Giorgio & Lecca, Patrizio & Mandras, Giovanni, 2013. "The impact of population ageing on energy use: Evidence from Italy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 970-980.
    8. Georg Müller-Fürstenberger & Gunter Stephan, 1999. "Banking and Trade of Carbon Emission Rights: A CGE Analysis," Diskussionsschriften dp9906, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    9. Alberto Ansuategi & Marta Escapa, 2004. "Is international cooperation on climate change good for the environment?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 17(7), pages 1-11.
    10. Shiell, Leslie, 2003. "Descriptive, prescriptive and second-best approaches to the control of global greenhouse gas emissions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1431-1452, August.
    11. Reyer Gerlagh & Bob van der Zwaan & Marjan Hofkes & Ger Klaassen, 2004. "Impacts of CO 2 -Taxes in an Economy with Niche Markets and Learning-by-Doing," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 28(3), pages 367-394, July.
    12. Ansuategui Cobo, José Alberto & Escapa García, Marta & Pérez, Azucena, 2003. "International and Intergenerational Dimensions of Climate Change: North-South Cooperation in an Overlapping Generations Framework," IKERLANAK 2003-06, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    13. Gerlagh, Reyer & van der Zwaan, B. C. C., 2001. "The effects of ageing and an environmental trust fund in an overlapping generations model on carbon emission reductions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 311-326, February.
    14. Schneider, Maik T. & Traeger, Christian P. & Winkler, Ralph, 2012. "Trading off generations: Equity, discounting, and climate change," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1621-1644.
    15. Gunter Stephan & Georg Müller-Fürstenberger, 2004. "Does Distribution Matter? Efficiency, Equity and Flexibility in Greenhouse Gas Abatement," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 27(1), pages 87-107, January.
    16. Richard Howarth, 2000. "Climate Change and the Representative Agent," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 15(2), pages 135-148, February.
    17. Stefan Bayer & Claudia Kemfert, 2002. "Reaching National Kyoto Targets in Germany and Sustainable Development," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 371-390, December.

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