Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Policymaking for posterity

Lawrence Summers and Richard Zeckhauser
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty
Vol. 37, No. 2/3, Special Issue on Discounting Dilemmas (December 2008), pp. 115-140
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41761455
Page Count: 26
  • More info
  • Cite this Item
Policymaking for posterity
Preview not available

Abstract

Policymaking for posterity involves current decisions with distant consequences. Contrary to conventional prescriptions, we conclude that the greater wealth of future generations may strengthen the case for preserving environmental amenities; lower discount rates should be applied to the far future, and special effort should be made to avoid actions that impose costs on future generations. Posterity brings great uncertainties. Even massive losses, such as human extinction, however, do not merit infinite negative utility. Given learning, greater uncertainties about damages could increase or decrease the optimal level of current mitigation activities. Policies for posterity should anticipate effects on: alternative investments, both public and private; the actions of other nations; and the behaviors of future generations. Such effects may surprise. This analysis blends traditional public finance and behavioral economics with a number of hypothetical choice problems.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[115]
    [115]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
116
    116
  • Thumbnail: Page 
117
    117
  • Thumbnail: Page 
118
    118
  • Thumbnail: Page 
119
    119
  • Thumbnail: Page 
120
    120
  • Thumbnail: Page 
121
    121
  • Thumbnail: Page 
122
    122
  • Thumbnail: Page 
123
    123
  • Thumbnail: Page 
124
    124
  • Thumbnail: Page 
125
    125
  • Thumbnail: Page 
126
    126
  • Thumbnail: Page 
127
    127
  • Thumbnail: Page 
128
    128
  • Thumbnail: Page 
129
    129
  • Thumbnail: Page 
130
    130
  • Thumbnail: Page 
131
    131
  • Thumbnail: Page 
132
    132
  • Thumbnail: Page 
133
    133
  • Thumbnail: Page 
134
    134
  • Thumbnail: Page 
135
    135
  • Thumbnail: Page 
136
    136
  • Thumbnail: Page 
137
    137
  • Thumbnail: Page 
138
    138
  • Thumbnail: Page 
139
    139
  • Thumbnail: Page 
140
    140