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Intergenerational Equity And The Discount Rate For Policy Analysis

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Abstract

For two independent principles of intergenerational equity, the implied discount rate equals the growth rate of real per capita 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 satisfied 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, and assuming time-invariance of the set of alternatives (policies), that the discount rate is well defined for a heterogeneous society at a balanced growth equilibrium, is corroborated by an independent principle equating values of human lives, and equals the growth rate of real per-capita income.

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  • Mertens, Jean-Francois & Rubinchik, Anna, "undated". "Intergenerational Equity And The Discount Rate For Policy Analysis," Working Papers WP2011/4, University of Haifa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:haf:huedwp:wp201104
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    1. Amrita Dhillon & Jean-Francois Mertens, 1999. "Relative Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 471-498, May.
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    7. 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).
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    15. MERTENS, Jean-François & RUBINCHIK, Anna, 2009. "Regularity and stability of equilibria in an overlapping generations model with exogenous growth," CORE Discussion Papers 2009005, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:jpbect:v:19:y:2017:i:5:p:903-920 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jean-François Mertens & Anna Rubinchik, 2017. "Discounting and welfare evaluation of policies," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 19(5), pages 903-920, October.
    3. Jean-François Mertens & Anna Rubinchik, 2013. "Equilibria in an overlapping generations model with transfer policies and exogenous growth," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 54(3), pages 537-595, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Overlapping Generations; Policy Reform; Intergenerational Equity; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Discount Rate; Utilitarianism;

    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

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