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Discounting, risk and inequality: A general approach

Author

Listed:
  • Stéphane Zuber

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marc Fleurbaey

    (Woodrow Wilson School and Center for Human Values - Princeton University)

Abstract

The common practice consists in using a unique value of the discount rate for all public investments. Endorsing a social welfare approach to discounting, we show how different public investments should be discounted depending on: the risk on the returns on investment, the systematic risk on aggregate consumption, the distribution of gains and losses, and inequality. We also study the limit value of the discount rate for very long term investments. We highlight the type of information that is needed about long-term scenarios in order to evaluate investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2015. "Discounting, risk and inequality: A general approach," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" hal-01300594, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseose:hal-01300594
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.05.003
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01300594
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    Cited by:

    1. Loïc Berger & Johannes Emmerling, 2020. "Welfare As Equity Equivalents," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 727-752, September.
    2. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2015. "Discounting, beyond utilitarianism," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 9, pages 1-52.
    3. Berger, Loïc & Emmerling, Johannes, 2017. "Welfare as Simple(x) Equity Equivalents," MITP: Mitigation, Innovation and Transformation Pathways 254044, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    4. Jasper N. Meya & Stefan Baumgärtner & Moritz A. Drupp & Martin F. Quaas, 2020. "Inequality and the Value of Public Natural Capital," CESifo Working Paper Series 8752, CESifo.
    5. Adler, Matthew D. & Treich, Nicolas, 2017. "Utilitarianism, prioritarianism, and intergenerational equity: A cake eating model," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 94-102.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; Social discounting; Risk;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate

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