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Choosing between traditional and innovative technologies: the case of scientific uncertainty

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  • Giovanni Immordino

    () (Fondazione Salernitana Sichelgaita and CSEF, Università di Salerno)

Abstract

We study the choice between a traditional technology characterized by known risks and an innovative technology (a geological storages for nuclear wastes, a genetically modified organism or a new treatment in medical science) subject to scientific uncertainty. We assume that the two technologies differ in first period implementation costs, second period risk, and degree of irreversibility, and we study the effect of foreseen scientific progress on the present choice between the two. If the first-period choice is restricted to be 'all or nothing', scientific progress promotes the traditional technology; with constant absolute risk aversion, scientific progress increases the optimal level of the technology with the higher implementation cost.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Immordino, 2001. "Choosing between traditional and innovative technologies: the case of scientific uncertainty," CSEF Working Papers 74, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:74
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    1. Gollier, Christian & Jullien, Bruno & Treich, Nicolas, 2000. "Scientific progress and irreversibility: an economic interpretation of the 'Precautionary Principle'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 229-253, February.
    2. Kenneth J. Arrow & Anthony C. Fisher, 1974. "Environmental Preservation, Uncertainty, and Irreversibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(2), pages 312-319.
    3. Epstein, Larry G, 1980. "Decision Making and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(2), pages 269-283, June.
    4. Robert A. Jones & Joseph M. Ostroy, 1984. "Flexibility and Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 13-32.
    5. Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-1012, December.
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