IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ide/wpaper/21453.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How Should the Distant Future be Discounted When Discount Rates are Uncertain?

Author

Listed:
  • Gollier, Christian
  • Weitzman, Martin L.

Abstract

It is not immediately clear how to discount distant-future events, like climate change, when the distant-future discount rate itself is uncertain. The so-called “Weitzman-Gollier puzzle” is the fact that two seemingly symmetric and equally plausible ways of dealing with uncertain future discount rates appear to give diametrically opposed results with the opposite policy implications. We explain how the “Weitzman-Gollier puzzle” is resolved. When agents optimize their consumption plans and probabilities are adjusted for risk, the two approaches are identical. What we would wish a reader to take away from this paper is the bottom-line message that the appropriate long run discount rate declines over time toward its lowest possible value.

Suggested Citation

  • Gollier, Christian & Weitzman, Martin L., 2009. "How Should the Distant Future be Discounted When Discount Rates are Uncertain?," IDEI Working Papers 588, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:21453
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://idei.fr/sites/default/files/medias/doc/by/gollier/discounting_long_term.pdf
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gollier, Christian, 2004. "Maximizing the expected net future value as an alternative strategy to gamma discounting," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 85-89, June.
    2. Martin L. Weitzman, 2001. "Gamma Discounting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 260-271, March.
    3. Wolfgang Buchholz & Jan Schumacher, 2008. "Discounting the Long-Distant Future: A Simple Explanation for the Weitzman-Gollier-Puzzle," CESifo Working Paper Series 2357, CESifo.
    4. Gollier, Christian, 2010. "Expected net present value, expected net future value, and the Ramsey rule," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 142-148, March.
    5. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Should we Discount the Far-Distant Future at its Lowest Possible Rate?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-14.
    6. 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.
    7. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2004. "Uncertain discount rates in climate policy analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 519-529, March.
    8. Hepburn, Cameron & Groom, Ben, 2007. "Gamma discounting and expected net future value," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-109, January.
    9. 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.
    10. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
    11. Freeman, Mark C., 2009. "Yes, we should discount the far-distant future at its lowest possible rate: a resolution of the Weitzman-Gollier puzzle," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-42, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    12. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Freeman, Mark C., 2009. "Yes, we should discount the far-distant future at its lowest possible rate: a resolution of the Weitzman-Gollier puzzle," Economics Discussion Papers 2009-42, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Should we Discount the Far-Distant Future at its Lowest Possible Rate?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-14.
    3. 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.
    4. Gollier, Christian, 2010. "Expected net present value, expected net future value, and the Ramsey rule," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 142-148, March.
    5. Weitzman, Martin L., 2010. "Risk-adjusted gamma discounting," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 1-13, July.
    6. Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Gamma discounters are short-termist," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 83-90.
    7. Traeger, Christian P., 2013. "Discounting under uncertainty: Disentangling the Weitzman and the Gollier effect," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 573-582.
    8. Freeman, Mark C. & Groom, Ben, 2016. "How certain are we about the certainty-equivalent long term social discount rate?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 152-168.
    9. 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 (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-21.
    10. Rick van der Ploeg, 2020. "Discounting and Climate Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 8441, CESifo.
    11. Christian Gollier, 2008. "Discounting with fat-tailed economic growth," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 171-186, December.
    12. Wolfgang Buchholz, 2014. "Discounting in an Uncertain World - Disentangling the Debate on the Weitzman-Gollier Puzzle," CESifo Working Paper Series 4967, CESifo.
    13. Martin Weitzman, 2012. "The Ramsey Discounting Formula for a Hidden-State Stochastic Growth Process," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 53(3), pages 309-321, November.
    14. Lawrence H. Goulder & Roberton C. Williams, 2012. "The Choice Of Discount Rate For Climate Change Policy Evaluation," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(04), pages 1-18.
    15. Cropper, Maureen, 2012. "How Should Benefits and Costs Be Discounted in an Intergenerational Context?," Discussion Papers dp-12-42, Resources For the Future.
    16. Kollenberg, Sascha & Taschini, Luca, 2016. "Emissions trading systems with cap adjustments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 20-36.
    17. 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.
    18. Traeger, Christian P., 2012. "What's the Rate? Disentangling the Weitzman and the Gollier Effect," CUDARE Working Papers 121932, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    19. Hepburn, Cameron & Koundouri, Phoebe & Panopoulou, Ekaterini & Pantelidis, Theologos, 2009. "Social discounting under uncertainty: A cross-country comparison," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 140-150, March.
    20. Mark C. Freeman & Ben Groom, 2015. "Positively Gamma Discounting: Combining the Opinions of Experts on the Social Discount Rate," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(585), pages 1015-1024, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Economic Logic blog

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:21453. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/idtlsfr.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/idtlsfr.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.