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Impatience and Intergenerational Equity in a Model of Sustainable Growth


  • Lee Endress

    (Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawaii)

  • Sittidaj Pongkijvorasin

    (Chulalongkorn University)

  • James Roumasset

    () (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

  • Basharat Pitafi

    (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)


We argue that intergenerational neutrality has been prematurely excluded from the dialogue on sustainable growth. By incorporating Burton’s distinction between intragenerational and intergenerational discounting into a model suitable for analyzing sustainability issues, we are able to accommodate some of the underlying concerns. We show that in an economy with a renewable resource, eschewing intergenerational discounting leads to the implication of a sustained growth path, without the necessity of a sustainability constraint. We find that green net national product remains constant along the optimal approach path to golden rule consumption. This avoids the paradox that maximizing sustainable income leads to unsustained consumption and income.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee Endress & Sittidaj Pongkijvorasin & James Roumasset & Basharat Pitafi, 2009. "Impatience and Intergenerational Equity in a Model of Sustainable Growth," Working Papers 200906, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200906

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1976. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
    2. Burton Peter S., 1993. "Intertemporal Preferences and Intergenerational Equity Considerations in Optimal Resource Harvesting," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 119-132, March.
    3. Endress, Lee H. & Roumasset, James A. & Zhou, Ting, 2005. "Sustainable growth with environmental spillovers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 527-547, December.
    4. Olson, Mancur & Bailey, Martin J, 1981. "Positive Time Preference," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(1), pages 1-25, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee Endress, 2013. "Sustainable Development and the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative," Working Papers 2013-4, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

    More about this item


    Sustainable development; intergenerational equity; intra-generational discounting; renewable resources; green net national product;

    JEL classification:

    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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