IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

What's the rate? Disentangling the Weitzman and the Gollier effect


  • Traeger, Christian P.


The uncertainty of future economic development affects the term structure of discount rates and, thus, the intertemporal weights that are tobe used in cost benefit analysis. The U.K. and France have recently adopteda falling term structure to incorporate uncertainty and the U.S. is consideringa similar step. A series of publications discusses the following concern: Aseemingly analogous argument used to justify falling discount rates can alsobe used to justify increasing discount rates. We show that increasing anddecreasing discount rates mean different things, can coexist, are created bydifferent channels through which risk affects evaluation, and have the samequalitative effect of making long-term payoffs more attractive.

Suggested Citation

  • Traeger, Christian P., 2012. "What's the rate? Disentangling the Weitzman and the Gollier effect," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt88x3d1vw, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt88x3d1vw

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hepburn, Cameron & Groom, Ben, 2007. "Gamma discounting and expected net future value," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-109, January.
    2. Gollier, Christian, 2004. "Maximizing the expected net future value as an alternative strategy to gamma discounting," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 85-89, June.
    3. Gollier, Christian & Weitzman, Martin L., 2010. "How should the distant future be discounted when discount rates are uncertain?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 350-353, June.
    4. Gollier, Christian, 2010. "Expected net present value, expected net future value, and the Ramsey rule," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 142-148, March.
    5. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1429-1445, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Freeman, Mark C., 2010. "Yes, we should discount the far-distant future at its lowest possible rate: A resolution of the Weitzman-Gollier puzzle," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-21.
    8. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
    9. repec:hrv:faseco:33373345 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mark C. Freeman & Ben Groom, 2015. "Positively Gamma Discounting: Combining the Opinions of Experts on the Social Discount Rate," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(585), pages 1015-1024, June.

    More about this item


    Life Sciences; Social and Behavioral Sciences; benefit cost analysis; discounting; term structure; uncertainty; Weitzman-Gollier puzzle;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:agrebk:qt88x3d1vw. 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: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.