IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/oxf/wpaper/400.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Risk, inequality and time in the welfare economics of climate change: is the workhorse model underspecified?

Author

Listed:
  • Cameron Hepburn
  • Hakon Sælen
  • Giles Atkinson
  • Simon Dietz

Abstract

In the workhorse model of welfare economics, the elasticity of marginal utility, often denoted as η, serves simultaneously to represent aversion to risk, aversion to spatial inequality, and preferences for intertemporal substitution. While Kreps-Porteus-Selden and Epstein-Zin preferences enable risk to be separated from intertemporal substitution, no model enables all tlhree concepts to be disentangled. This theoretical lacuna is important, particularly for the economics of climate change, which is a global, long-run, uncertain externality. Much debate, for instance in the wake of the Stern Review (Stern, 2007a) has focused on the appropriate value for η. This paper tests the suitability of the workhorse model for climate change economics, by surveying the attitudes of over 3000 people to risk, time, and income inequality. The results show that individual attitudes to the three are only weakly correlated. This suggests that because the three concepts are captured by a single parameter, the model is underspecified and a richer model should be considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Cameron Hepburn & Hakon Sælen & Giles Atkinson & Simon Dietz, 2008. "Risk, inequality and time in the welfare economics of climate change: is the workhorse model underspecified?," Economics Series Working Papers 400, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:400
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:24129643-c470-4fff-bf44-b9f9cbb515ae
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    2. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Arie Kapteyn & Federica Teppa, 2003. "Hypothetical Intertemporal Consumption Choices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 140-152, March.
    4. Minh Ha-Duong & Nicolas Treich, 2004. "Risk Aversion, Intergenerational Equity and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 28(2), pages 195-207, June.
    5. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    6. Richard Carson & Nicholas Flores & Norman Meade, 2001. "Contingent Valuation: Controversies and Evidence," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 19(2), pages 173-210, June.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L., 1992. "Valuing public goods: The purchase of moral satisfaction," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 57-70, January.
    8. Larry G. Epstein & Stanley E. Zin, 2013. "Substitution, risk aversion and the temporal behavior of consumption and asset returns: A theoretical framework," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Leonard C MacLean & William T Ziemba (ed.), HANDBOOK OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING Part I, chapter 12, pages 207-239, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    9. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-630, October.
    10. Samuel Fankhauser & Richard Tol & DAVID Pearce, 1997. "The Aggregation of Climate Change Damages: a Welfare Theoretic Approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(3), pages 249-266, October.
    11. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249, February.
    12. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
    13. Wilfred Beckerman & Cameron Hepburn, 2007. "Ethics of the Discount Rate in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 8(1), pages 187-210, January.
    14. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    15. William D. Nordhaus, 2006. "The "Stern Review" on the Economics of Climate Change," NBER Working Papers 12741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Bateman, Ian J. & Day, Brett H. & Jones, Andrew P. & Jude, Simon, 2009. "Reducing gain-loss asymmetry: A virtual reality choice experiment valuing land use change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 106-118, July.
    17. Joop Hartog & Ada Ferrer‐i‐Carbonell & Nicole Jonker, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
    18. Robert B. Barsky & F. Thomas Juster & Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-579.
    19. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
    20. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
    21. Bukszar, Ed & Knetsch, Jack L, 1997. "Fragile Redistribution Choices behind a Veil of Ignorance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 63-74, January.
    22. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
    23. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
    24. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
    25. Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2005. "Are People Inequality-Averse, or Just Risk-Averse?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(3), pages 375-396, August.
    26. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Malafry, Laurence & Soares Brinca, Pedro, 2020. "Climate Policy in an Unequal World: Assessing the Cost of Risk on Vulnerable Households," MPRA Paper 100201, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Anthoff, David, 2009. "Optimal Global Dynamic Carbon Taxation," Papers WP278, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    3. Richard S J Tol, 2018. "The Economic Impacts of Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(1), pages 4-25.

    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. Helgeson, Jennifer & Dietz, Simon & Atkinson, Giles D. & Hepburn, Cameron & Sælen, Håkon, 2009. "Siblings, not triplets: social preferences for risk, inequality and time in discounting climate change," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 3, pages 1-28.
    2. Bartolini, Stefano & Sarracino, Francesco, 2018. "Do People Care About Future Generations? Derived Preferences from Happiness Data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 253-275.
    3. W. Botzen & Jeroen Bergh, 2014. "Specifications of Social Welfare in Economic Studies of Climate Policy: Overview of Criteria and Related Policy Insights," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(1), pages 1-33, May.
    4. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    5. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2015. "Discounting, beyond utilitarianism," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 9, pages 1-52.
    6. David Anthoff & Richard Tol, 2009. "The Impact of Climate Change on the Balanced Growth Equivalent: An Application of FUND," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 351-367, July.
    7. Loïc Berger & Johannes Emmerling, 2020. "Welfare As Equity Equivalents," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 727-752, September.
    8. Buchholz, Wolfgang & Schumacher, Jan, 2010. "Discounting and welfare analysis over time: Choosing the [eta]," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 372-385, September.
    9. Adam S. Booij & Bernard M.S. Van Praag & Gijs Van De Kuilen & Bernard M.S. van Praag, 2009. "A Parametric Analysis of Prospect Theory's Functionals for the General Population," CESifo Working Paper Series 2609, CESifo.
    10. Kent D. Daniel & Robert B. Litterman & Gernot Wagner, 2016. "Applying Asset Pricing Theory to Calibrate the Price of Climate Risk," NBER Working Papers 22795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Selima Ben Mansour & Elyès Jouini & Jean-Michel Marin & Clotilde Napp & Christian Robert, 2008. "Are risk-averse agents more optimistic? A Bayesian estimation approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 843-860.
    12. Mark Schneider, 2016. "Dual Process Utility Theory: A Model of Decisions Under Risk and Over Time," Working Papers 16-23, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    13. Berger, Loïc & Emmerling, Johannes, 2017. "Welfare as Simple(x) Equity Equivalents," MITP: Mitigation, Innovation and Transformation Pathways 254044, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    14. Noah Kaufman, 2012. "The bias of integrated assessment models that ignore climate catastrophes," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 575-595, February.
    15. Adam Booij & Bernard Praag & Gijs Kuilen, 2010. "A parametric analysis of prospect theory’s functionals for the general population," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 115-148, February.
    16. Booij, Adam S. & van de Kuilen, Gijs, 2009. "A parameter-free analysis of the utility of money for the general population under prospect theory," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 651-666, August.
    17. Booij, Adam S. & van Praag, Bernard M.S., 2009. "A simultaneous approach to the estimation of risk aversion and the subjective time discount rate," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 374-388, May.
    18. Simon Dietz & David Maddison, 2009. "New Frontiers in the Economics of Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 295-306, July.
    19. van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. & Botzen, W.J.W., 2015. "Monetary valuation of the social cost of CO2 emissions: A critical survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 33-46.
    20. Luigi Guiso, 2015. "A Test of Narrow Framing and its Origin," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 1(1), pages 61-100, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate Change; Discounting; Cost-Benefit Analysis; Risk Aversion; Intertemporal Substitution; Inequality Aversion; Intergenerational Equity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • 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:

    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:oxf:wpaper:400. 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/sfeixuk.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: Anne Pouliquen The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Anne Pouliquen to update the entry or send us the correct address (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sfeixuk.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.