Growth, Environment and Uncertain Future Preferences
The attitude of future generations towards environmental assets may well be different from ours, and it is necessary to take into account this possibility explicitly in the current debate about environmental policy. The question we are addressing here is: should uncertainty about future preferences lead to a more conservative attitude towards environment? Previous literature shows that it is the case when society expects that on average future preferences will be more in favor of environment than ours, but this result relies heavily on the assumption of a separability between consumption and environmental quality in the utility function. We show that things are less simple when preferences are non-separable: the attitude of the society now depends not only on the expectation of the change in preferences but also on the characteristics of the economy (impatience, intertemporal flexibility, natural capacities of regeneration of the environment, relative preference for the environment), on its history (initial level of the environmental quality) and on the date at which preferences are expected to change (near or far future).
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