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Limits to Substitution Between Ecosystem Services and Manufactured Goods and Implications for Social Discounting

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  • Moritz A. Drupp

    () (University of Kiel
    London School of Economics and Political Science)

Abstract

This paper examines implications of limits to substitution for estimating substitutability between ecosystem services and manufactured goods and for social discounting. Based on a model that accounts for a subsistence requirement in the consumption of ecosystem services, we provide empirical evidence on substitution elasticities. We find an initial mean elasticity of substitution of two, which declines over time towards complementarity. We subsequently extend the theory of dual discounting by introducing a subsistence requirement. The relative price of ecosystem services is non-constant and grows without bound as the consumption of ecosystem services declines towards the subsistence level. An application suggests that the initial discount rate for ecosystem services is more than a percentage-point lower as compared to manufactured goods. This difference increases by a further half percentage-point over a 300-year time horizon. The results underscore the importance of considering limited substitutability in long-term public project appraisal.

Suggested Citation

  • Moritz A. Drupp, 2018. "Limits to Substitution Between Ecosystem Services and Manufactured Goods and Implications for Social Discounting," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 69(1), pages 135-158, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:69:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0068-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-016-0068-5
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    Cited by:

    1. Cairns, Robert D. & Del Campo, Stellio & Martinet, Vincent, 2019. "Sustainability of an economy relying on two reproducible assets," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 145-160.
    2. Rick van der Ploeg, 2020. "Discounting and Climate Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 8441, CESifo.
    3. Muller, Nicholas Z., 2019. "The derivation of discount rates with an augmented measure of income," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 87-101.
    4. Rintaro Yamaguchi, 2019. "Intergenerational Discounting with Intragenerational Inequality in Consumption and the Environment," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 73(4), pages 957-972, August.
    5. Kollenberg, Sascha & Taschini, Luca, 2016. "Emissions trading systems with cap adjustments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 20-36.
    6. Drupp, Moritz A. & Hänsel, Martin C., 2018. "Relative prices and climate policy: How the scarcity of non-market goods drives policy evaluation," Economics Working Papers 2018-01, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    7. Dupoux, Marion & Martinet, Vincent, 2019. "Can the environment be an inferior good? A theory with context-dependent substitutability and needs," Working Papers in Economics 759, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. Jasper N. Meya, 0. "Environmental Inequality and Economic Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 0, pages 1-36.
    10. Drupp, Moritz A. & Meya, Jasper N. & Baumgärtner, Stefan & Quaas, Martin F., 2017. "Economic inequality and the value of nature," Economics Working Papers 2017-08, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    11. Zhu, Xueqin & Smulders, Sjak & de Zeeuw, Aart, 2019. "Discounting in the presence of scarce ecosystem services," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    12. Zeytoon Nejad Moosavian, Seyyed Ali & Goodwin, Barry K., 2018. "GENERALIZING THE GENERAL: Generalizing the CES Production Function to Allow for the Flexibility of Input-Driven Output Risk and Viability of Input Thresholds," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274352, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. Eli P Fenichel & Yukiko Hashida, 2019. "Choices and the value of natural capital," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 120-137.
    14. Meya, Jasper N. & Drupp, Moritz A. & Hanley, Nick, 2018. "Income inequality and the international transfer of environmental values," Economics Working Papers 2017-03, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    15. Lucas Bretschger & Karen Pittel, 2019. "Twenty Key Questions in Environmental and Resource Economics," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 19/328, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    16. Jasper N. Meya, 2018. "Environmental Inequality and Economic Valuation," Working Papers V-416-18, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2018.
    17. van den Bijgaart, Inge, 2016. "Essays in environmental economics and policy," Other publications TiSEM 298bee2a-cb08-4173-9fe1-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    18. Jasper N. Meya, 2020. "Environmental Inequality and Economic Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(2), pages 235-270, July.
    19. Vasquez-Lavín, Felipe & Ponce Oliva, Roberto D. & Hernández, José Ignacio & Gelcich, Stefan & Carrasco, Moisés & Quiroga, Miguel, 2019. "Exploring dual discount rates for ecosystem services: Evidence from a marine protected area network," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 63-80.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dual discounting; Ecosystem services; Limited substitutability; Project evaluation; Subsistence; Sustainability;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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