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Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis

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  • MERTENS, Jean-François
  • RUBINCHIK, Anna

Abstract

Current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines use the interest rate as a basis for the discount rate, and have nothing to say about an intergenerationally fair discount rate. We derive this discount rate by differentiating a social welfare function with respect to perturbations in individual endowments (which induce perturbations of equilibria) in an overlapping generations model with exogenous growth. A traditional utilitarian approach leads to too high values, and in a wide range, while Relative Utilitarianism implies it equals the growth rate of real per-capita consumption, independent of the interest rate. The differentiation is based on a novel method, applicable to arbitrary policy variations, and that reveals a deep and very general property of exogenous growth models

Suggested Citation

  • MERTENS, Jean-François & RUBINCHIK, Anna, 2006. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," CORE Discussion Papers 2006091, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2006091
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    Cited by:

    1. MERTENS, Jean-François & RUBINCHIK, Anna, 2006. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," CORE Discussion Papers 2006091, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    2. Mertens, Jean-François & Rubinchik, Anna, 2012. "Intergenerational Equity And The Discount Rate For Policy Analysis," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(01), pages 61-93, February.
    3. Jean-Francois Mertens, 2010. "Welfare evaluation of policies in an overlapping generations growth model," 2010 Meeting Papers 1239, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social welfare function; social welfare functional; overlapping generations; exogenous growth; intergenerational fairness; cost-benefit analysis; social discount rate; utilitarianism; relative utilitarianism;

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

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