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Positively gamma discounting: combining the opinions of experts on the social discount rate

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  • Freeman, Mark C.
  • Groom, Ben

Abstract

The aggregated term structure of social discount rates that results from Weitz-man's (2001) survey of expert opinion is shown to be highly sensitive to the nature of the responses. If variation re.ects irreducible differences in ethical judgements, the term structure can decline rapidly. If variation occurred because respondents were forecasting future rates under uncertainty, the term structure is much flatter because additional experts provide new information. The former approach triples the social cost of carbon when compared to the latter. The distinction between heterogeneity and uncertainty illustrates the need for a nuanced treatment of survey data in intergenerational policy making.

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  • Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben, 2015. "Positively gamma discounting: combining the opinions of experts on the social discount rate," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 57158, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:57158
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cox, John C & Ingersoll, Jonathan E, Jr & Ross, Stephen A, 1981. "A Re-examination of Traditional Hypotheses about the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(4), pages 769-799, September.
    2. Christian Gollier, 2012. "Pricing the Planet's Future: The Economics of Discounting in an Uncertain World," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9894.
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    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Arrow, K. & Cropper, M. & Gollier, C. & Groom, B. & Heal, G. & Newell, R. & Nordhaus, W. & Pindyck, R. & Pizer, W. & Portney, P. & Sterner, T. & Tol, R. S. J. & Weitzman, Martin L., 2013. "Determining Benefits and Costs for Future Generations," Scholarly Articles 12841963, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Should we Discount the Far-Distant Future at its Lowest Possible Rate?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-14.
    8. Phoebe Koundouri & Theologos Pantelidis & Ben Groom & Ekaterini Panopoulou, 2007. "Discounting the distant future: How much does model selection affect the certainty equivalent rate?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(3), pages 641-656.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Jouini, Elyès & Marin, Jean-Michel & Napp, Clotilde, 2010. "Discounting and divergence of opinion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 830-859, March.
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    13. 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.
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    1. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:335:p:345-364 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben & Panopoulou, Ekaterini & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2015. "Declining discount rates and the Fisher Effect: Inflated past, discounted future?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 32-49.
    3. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 83-90.
    4. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben, 2016. "How certain are we about the certainty-equivalent longterm social discount rate?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67258, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Howard, Peter H. & Derek, Sylvan, 2016. "The Wisdom of the Economic Crowd: Calibrating Integrated Assessment Models Using Consensus," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235639, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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