Sustainability and the Economics of the Environment: Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Dynamics of the Long-Run Discount Rate
This paper reviews the arguments for and the implications of employing Declining Discount Rates (DDRs) in CBA and in the analysis of economic growth and sustainability. We show that there exist several growth models in which a relationship has been found between the long-run equilibrium under DDRs and that in which a zero discount rate is employed. This can have the effect of pushing the optimum under DDRs away from the conventional utilitarian outcome towards the Green Golden Rule (GGR) level of capita or environmental stocks. Furthermore, in response to worries that the GGR places weight on the future at too great an expense to the present, we highlight the result of Li and Lofgren (2000): DDRs can evoke a solution to resource management problems in which the objective function explicitly takes into account the preferences of present and future generations, such as those posited by. Either zero or conventional discounting does not achieve this solution. It is in these senses that DDRs can be seen to encourage a more equal treatment of generations and promote sustainable outcomes. We also discuss different methodologies for the estimation of a working schedule of DDRs assuming that future discount rates and the past provides information about the future. The policy implications of this are that a correctly specified model of discount rates provides a schedule of DDRs, which values atmospheric carbon reduction 150% higher than conventional exponential discounting, and almost 90% higher than incorrectly specified models. In this sense sustainable outcomes are more likely to emerge from project appraisal with DDRs, but given that the theory of DDRs for CBA reviewed relates to the socially efficient discount rate, such outcomes can also be thought of as efficient.
|Date of creation:|
|Publication status:||Published in Focus on Ecology Research|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 76, Patission Street, Athens 104 34|
Phone: (+301) 8214021
Fax: (301) 8214021
Web page: http://deos.aueb.gr/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1995.
"An axiomatic approach to sustainable development,"
8609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003.
"Discounting the distant future: how much do uncertain rates increase valuations?,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 52-71, July.
- Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 2000. "Discounting the Distant Future: How Much Do Uncertain Rates Increase Valuations?," Discussion Papers dp-00-45, Resources For the Future.
- Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Ramsey Meets Laibson in the Neoclassical Growth Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1125-1152.
- Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Time Horizon and the Discount Rate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 463-473, December.
- Li, Chuan-Zhong & Lofgren, Karl-Gustaf, 2000. "Renewable Resources and Economic Sustainability: A Dynamic Analysis with Heterogeneous Time Preferences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 236-250, November.
- David Laibson, 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
- David Pearce & Ben Groom & Cameron Hepburn & Phoebe Koundouri, 2003. "Valuing the Future," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(2), pages 121-141, April.
- Hugh Gravelle & Dave Smith, 2001. "Discounting for health effects in cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(7), pages 587-599.
- Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
- Weitzman Martin L., 1994.
"On the Environmental Discount Rate,"
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 200-209, March.
- Weitzman, M.L., 1993. "On the 'Environmental' Discount Rate," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1625, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Rabl, Ari, 1996. "Discounting of long-term costs: What would future generations prefer us to do?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 137-145, June.
- Gray, Stephen F., 1996.
"Modeling the conditional distribution of interest rates as a regime-switching process,"
Journal of Financial Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 27-62, September.
- Tom Doan, "undated". "RATS programs to replicate Gray's 1996 Regime Switching GARCH paper," Statistical Software Components RTZ00080, Boston College Department of Economics.
- Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Discounting an uncertain future," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 149-166, August.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- J.K. Horowitz, 2002. "Preferences in the Future," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(3), pages 241-258, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aue:wpaper:0903. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekaterini Glynou)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.