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On the Welfare Costs of Consumption Uncertainty

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  • Robert J. Barro

Abstract

Satisfactory calculations of the welfare cost of aggregate consumption uncertainty require a framework that replicates major features of asset prices and returns, such as the high equity premium and low risk-free rate. A Lucas-tree model with rare but large disasters is such a framework. In a baseline simulation, the welfare cost of disaster risk is large -- society would be willing to lower real GDP by about 20% each year to eliminate all disaster risk, including wars. In contrast, the welfare cost from usual economic fluctuations is much smaller, though still important -- corresponding to lowering GDP by around 1.5% each year.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Barro, 2006. "On the Welfare Costs of Consumption Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 12763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12763
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ivan Jaccard, 2010. "Asset Pricing and Housing Supply in a Production Economy," 2010 Meeting Papers 605, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Juan Blyde & Christian Daude & Eduardo Fernández-Arias, 2010. "Output collapses and productivity destruction," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 146(2), pages 359-387, June.
    3. Jang-Ok Cho & Thomas Cooley & Hyung Seok Kim, 2015. "Business Cycle Uncertainty and Economic Welfare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 185-200, April.
    4. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, 2010. "The econometrics of DSGE models," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 3-49, March.
    5. Ian W. R. Martin, 2008. "Disasters and the Welfare Cost of Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 74-78, May.
    6. Pedro Conceição & Yanchun Zhang, 2010. "Discounting in the context of climate change economics: the policy implications of uncertainty and global asymmetries," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 12(1), pages 31-57, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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