Non-dogmatic Social Discounting
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
The long-run social discount rate has an enormous effect on
the value of climate mitigation, infrastructure projects, and
other long-term public policies. Its value is however highly
contested, in part because of normative disagreements about
social time preferences. I develop a theory of 'non-dogmatic'
social planners, who are insecure in their current normative judgments and entertain the possibility that they may
change. Although each non-dogmatic planner advocates an
idiosyncratic theory of intertemporal social welfare, all such
planners agree on the long-run social discount rate. Non-
dogmatism thus goes some way towards resolving normative
disagreements, especially for long-term public projects.
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