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Decision-Making under Scientific Uncertainty: The Economics of the Precautionary Principle

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  • Gollier, Christian
  • Treich, Nicolas

Abstract

The Precautionary Principle has provided the foundations for building a new risk regulatory pattern under scientific uncertainty. This paper investigates how classical economic theory may, or may not, justify the Precautionary Principle. It examines the link between irreversibility, the prospect of increasing information over time and risk management. In doing so, it brings closer the notion of option value to that of precaution. Using a general modelling framework, it identifies the conditions so that the Precautionary Principle is an efficient economic guideline. It also explains why precautionary policies are not likely to emerge in a competitive economy or in the presence of a global pollution problem. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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  • Gollier, Christian & Treich, Nicolas, 2003. "Decision-Making under Scientific Uncertainty: The Economics of the Precautionary Principle," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 77-103, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:27:y:2003:i:1:p:77-103
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