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Deciding with long-term environmental impacts: what role for discounting?

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  • Schilizzi, Steven

Abstract

The problem of how to discount values in the far future is reviewed, and shown to lead down a blind alley. An alternative is proposed that allows long term consequences to be addressed by decisions using a relatively short term time horizon. A simple model investigating the optimal containment of radioactive waste in a deterministic world is used to show that current generations can indeed cater for the interests of the far future while optimising over the short term; however, this is not always possible. The proposed method seems to address most of the critiques of long term discounting found in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Schilizzi, Steven, 2003. "Deciding with long-term environmental impacts: what role for discounting?," 2003 Conference (47th), February 12-14, 2003, Fremantle, Australia 58206, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aare03:58206
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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/58206
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Graciela Chichilnisky, 1996. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 13(2), pages 231-257, April.
    2. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-974, December.
    3. Rubinstein, A., 2000. "Is it "Economics and Psychology"?: the Case of Hyperbolic Discounting," Papers 00-21, Tel Aviv.
    4. Cropper, Maureen & Laibson, David, 1998. "The implications of hyperbolic discounting for project evaluation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1943, The World Bank.
    5. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-758.
    6. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    7. Geir B. Asheim, 1996. "Ethical preferences in the presence of resource constraints," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 23, pages 55-67.
    8. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
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