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Discounting, Uncertainty, and Revealed Time Preference

  • Richard B. Howarth

Recent studies suggest that direct preferences regarding investment gains and losses may significantly affect people’s behavior in financial markets. The present paper shows that this hypothesis has striking implications for the choice of discount rates in cost-benefit analysis. The paper explores a model in which the future benefits provided by a generic public good—environmental quality—should be discounted at a rate that is close to the market rate of return for risk-free financial assets. This holds true even when the public good has risk characteristics equivalent to those of risky forms of wealth such as corporate stocks.

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File URL: http://le.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/85/1/24
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Land Economics.

Volume (Year): 85 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 24-40

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:85:y:2009:i:1:p:24-40
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  1. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  2. 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.
  3. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, June.
  4. William R. Cline, 1992. "Economics of Global Warming, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 39.
  5. Heaton, John, 1995. "An Empirical Investigation of Asset Pricing with Temporally Dependent Preference Specifications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(3), pages 681-717, May.
  6. Samuelson, Paul A, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection by Dynamic Stochastic Programming," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 239-46, August.
  7. Gali, J., 1992. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices," Papers 92-22, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
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