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Sustainability, Limited Substitutability and Non-Constant Social Discount Rates

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  • Traeger, Christian P.

Abstract

The paper explores the consequences of limited substitutability in welfare between environmental and produced goods for long-term evaluation. I show how the magnitude and time development of optimal social discount rates depend on the substitutability between the different classes of goods. The notions of weak and strong sustainability are translated into the degree of substitutability. I show that a strong notion of sustainability results in lower weights given to long-run service and consumption streams compared to a weak notion of sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Traeger, Christian P., 2008. "Sustainability, Limited Substitutability and Non-Constant Social Discount Rates," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt10d7d7n4, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt10d7d7n4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Sterner & U. Martin Persson, 2008. "An Even Sterner Review: Introducing Relative Prices into the Discounting Debate," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 61-76, Winter.
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    5. Gerlagh, Reyer & van der Zwaan, B. C. C., 2002. "Long-Term Substitutability between Environmental and Man-Made Goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 329-345, September.
    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. Dasgupta, Partha, 2001. "Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247882.
    8. Philibert, Cedric, 1999. "The economics of climate change and the theory of discounting," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(15), pages 913-927, December.
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    10. Traeger, Christian P., 2011. "Sustainability, limited substitutability, and non-constant social discount rates," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 215-228, September.
    11. Fisher, Anthony C & Krutilla, John V & Cicchetti, Charles J, 1972. "The Economics of Environmental Preservation: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 605-619, September.
    12. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Time Horizon and the Discount Rate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 463-473, December.
    13. Neumayer, Eric, 1999. "Global warming: discounting is not the issue, but substitutability is," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 33-43, January.
    14. Annette Vissing-Jørgensen & Orazio P. Attanasio, 2003. "Stock-Market Participation, Intertemporal Substitution, and Risk-Aversion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 383-391, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. W. Botzen & Jeroen Bergh, 2014. "Specifications of Social Welfare in Economic Studies of Climate Policy: Overview of Criteria and Related Policy Insights," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(1), pages 1-33, May.
    2. Kögel, Tomas, 2011. "On the Relation between Discounting of Climate Change and Edgeworth-Pareto Substitutability," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-12.
    3. Karp, Larry, 2009. "Sacrifice, discounting and climate policy: five questions," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt1zq431s8, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    4. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10640-015-9976-z is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "A theory of rational short-termism with uncertain betas," LERNA Working Papers 12.14.371, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    6. Gollier, Christian, 2010. "Ecological discounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 812-829, March.
    7. repec:kap:enreec:v:69:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0068-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Kollenberg, Sascha & Taschini, Luca, 2016. "Emissions trading systems with cap adjustments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 20-36.
    9. Stefan Baumgärtner & Alexandra Klein & Denise Thiel & Klara Winkler, 2015. "Ramsey Discounting of Ecosystem Services," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 61(2), pages 273-296, June.
    10. Gollier, Christian, 2012. "Asset pricing with uncertain betas: A long-term perspective," IDEI Working Papers 752, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    11. Echazu Luciana & Nocetti Diego & Smith William T., 2012. "A New Look into the Determinants of the Ecological Discount Rate: Disentangling Social Preferences," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-44, April.
    12. Ubfal, Diego, 2016. "How general are time preferences? Eliciting good-specific discount rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 150-170.
    13. 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.
    14. repec:wsi:ccexxx:v:03:y:2012:i:04:n:s2010007812500248 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Éva Pálinkó & Márta Szabó, 2012. "Application of Social Discount Rate in Public Projects," Public Finance Quarterly, State Audit Office of Hungary, vol. 57(2), pages 184-199.
    16. Lawrence H. Goulder & Roberton C. Williams, 2012. "The Choice Of Discount Rate For Climate Change Policy Evaluation," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(04), pages 1-18.
    17. Christoph Heinzel, 2014. "Term structure of discount rates under multivariate s-ordered consumption growth," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 14-01, INRA UMR SMART-LERECO.
    18. Gollier, Christian, 2017. "Valuation of natural capital under uncertain substitutability," TSE Working Papers 17-813, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    19. Yamaguchi, Rintaro, 2012. "Discounting, Distribution and Disaggregation," MPRA Paper 46322, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. 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.
    21. 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.
    22. repec:spr:climat:v:145:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-017-2094-x is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Rintaro Yamaguchi, 2013. "Discounting, Distribution and Disaggregation: Discount Rates for the Rich and the Poor with Climate as a Source of Utility," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(4), pages 440-459, September.
    24. Defrancesco, Edi & Gatto, Paola & Rosato, Paolo, 2014. "A ‘component-based’ approach to discounting for natural resource damage assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 1-9.
    25. 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.

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