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Determining Benefits and Costs for Future Generations

Kenneth Arrow, Maureen Cropper (), Christian Gollier (), Ben Groom (), Geoffrey Heal (), Richard Newell (), William Nordhaus (), Robert Pindyck (), William Pizer, P. Portney, Thomas Sterner, Richard Tol () and Martin Weitzman

Scholarly Articles from Harvard University Department of Economics

Abstract: In economic project analysis, the rate at which future benefits and costs are discounted relative to current values often determines whether a project passes the benefit-cost test. This is especially true of projects with long time horizons, such as those to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Whether the benefits of climate policies, which can last for centuries, outweigh the costs, many of which are borne today, is especially sensitive to the rate at which future benefits are discounted. This is also true of other policies, e.g., affecting nuclear waste disposal or the construction of long-lived infrastructure.

Date: 2013
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Published in Science

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