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Do we care about sustainability? An analysis of time sensitivity of social preferences under environmental time-persistent effects

Author

Listed:
  • Michela Faccioli

    () (Department of Applied Economics at the University of the Balearic Islands.)

  • Nick Hanley

    () (Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews)

  • Catalina M. Torres Figuerola

    (Department of Applied Economics at the University of the Balearic Islands.)

  • Antoni Riera Font

    (Department of Applied Economics at the University of the Balearic Islands.)

Abstract

Environmental cost-benefit analysis has traditionally assumed that environmental policies’ social benefits are sensitive to the timing of the improvement. Indeed, it has relied on the idea that policies’ outcomes, taking place at different moments in the future depending on the intervention’s performance or on environmental dynamics, are preferred if occurring earlier. However, this assumption needs to be verified as it may lead to consider as socially desirable policies being less so. This is especially important when interventions aim at counteracting time-persistent environmental problems, whose impacts occur in the long-and very long-term, respectively involving the present and future generations. In this framework, with the objective to identify the role of sustainability concerns, this study analyzes the time sensitivity of social preferences for preservation policies of adaptation to time-persistent climate change stresses. Results have shown that preferences are time insensitive due to sustainability issues, as current generations equally care about nature preservation in the long-term, when they will enjoy it, and in the very long-term, when future generations will. These outcomes are relevant to better inform decision-making in the design of policies in the face of time-persistent environmental problems, by pointing out that, to be welfare-maximizing, interventions also need to be sustainable.

Suggested Citation

  • Michela Faccioli & Nick Hanley & Catalina M. Torres Figuerola & Antoni Riera Font, 2015. "Do we care about sustainability? An analysis of time sensitivity of social preferences under environmental time-persistent effects," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2015-17, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:sss:wpaper:2015-17
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Time-persistent environmental problems; sustainability; preference analysis; choice experiment; time sensitivity; climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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