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Valuing the Future

  • Ecology
  • Economics


One of the most controversial areas of economics is the practice of discounting: attaching a lower weight to future costs and benefits than present costs and benefits. Discounting appears to offend notions of sustainable development and the interests of future generations. Recent advances in the theory of discounting hold out strong hope that the ‘tyranny of discounting’ can be avoided through the use of time varying discount rates (TVDRs). This paper reviews the recent rationales for TVDRs and applies the results to issues such as nuclear power and global warming control.

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