IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ctl/louvec/2008047.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Jean-François, MERTENS

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Department of Economics)

  • Anna, RUBINCHIK

    (Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA)

Abstract

For two independent principles of intergenerational equity, the implied discount rate equals the growth rate of real per-capital income, say 2%, thus falling right into the range suggested by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. To prove this, we develop a simple tool to evaluate small policy changes affecting several generations, by reducing the dynamic problem to a static one. A necessary condition is time-invariance, which is statisfied by any common solution concept in an overlapping generations model with exogenous growth. This tool is applied to derive the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis under two different utilitarian welfare functions : classical and relative. It is only with relative utilitarianism that the discount rate is well-defined for a heterogeneous society, is corroborated by an independent principle equation values of human lives, and equals the growth rate of real per-capital income.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-François, MERTENS & Anna, RUBINCHIK, 2008. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2008047, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvec:2008047
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://sites.uclouvain.be/econ/DP/IRES/2008-47.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Claude, d’ASPREMONT, 2005. "Formal welfarism and intergenerational equity," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2005051, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
    2. Geir Asheim & Tapan Mitra & Bertil Tungodden, 2012. "Sustainable recursive social welfare functions," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(2), pages 267-292, February.
    3. Amrita Dhillon & Jean-Francois Mertens, 1999. "Relative Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 471-498, May.
    4. Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with InterGenerational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1557-1563, September.
    5. Fleurbaey, Marc & Michel, Philippe, 2003. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 777-802, September.
    6. Asheim, Geir B., 1991. "Unjust intergenerational allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 350-371, August.
    7. Kehoe, Timothy J. & Levine, David K., 1984. "Regularity in overlapping generations exchange economies," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 69-93, April.
    8. 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).
    9. Alma Cohen & Liran Einav, 2007. "Estimating Risk Preferences from Deductible Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 745-788, June.
    10. de la Croix,David & Michel,Philippe, 2002. "A Theory of Economic Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521001151, May.
    11. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467-467.
    12. Sen, Amartya, 2000. "Social justice and the distribution of income," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 59-85 Elsevier.
    13. Mishan, E J, 1971. "Evaluation of Life and Limb: A Theoretical Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 687-705, July-Aug..
    14. Clive Bell & Shantayanan Devarajan, 1983. "Shadow Prices for Project Evaluation Under Alternative Macroeconomic Specifications," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 457-477.
    15. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    16. Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1998. "The A-K Model: It's Past, Present, and Future," NBER Working Papers 6684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Andres Erosa & Martin Gervais, 2001. "Optimal taxation in infinitely-lived agent and overlapping generations models : a review," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 23-44.
    18. King, Robert G & Plosser, Charles I & Rebelo, Sergio T, 2002. "Production, Growth and Business Cycles: Technical Appendix," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 20(1-2), pages 87-116, October.
    19. Juan Crespo & Carmelo Nuñez & Juan Rincón-Zapatero, 2009. "On the impossibility of representing infinite utility streams," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 40(1), pages 47-56, July.
    20. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The theory of cost-benefit analysis," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 909-989 Elsevier.
    21. Geanakoplos, John D. & Polemarchakis, Heraklis M., 1991. "Overlapping generations," Handbook of Mathematical Economics,in: W. Hildenbrand & H. Sonnenschein (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 35, pages 1899-1960 Elsevier.
    22. 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.
    23. Theodore C. Bergstrom, 2006. "Benefit-Cost in a Benevolent Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 339-351, March.
    24. Coate, Stephen, 2000. "An Efficiency Approach to the Evaluation of Policy Changes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(463), pages 437-455, April.
    25. Robert R. Bliss & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2004. "Option-Implied Risk Aversion Estimates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 407-446, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    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; policy reform; intergenerational equity; intergenerational fairness; cost-benefit analysis; discount rate; social discount rate; utilitarianism; relative utilitarianism; welfarism;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:ctl:louvec:2008047. 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: (Anne DAVISTER-LOGIST). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/iruclbe.html .

    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.