Discounting Dilemmas: Editors' Introduction
Viscusi, W. Kip
Two developments pose dilemmas for well established discounting techniques: (1) The extremely long time horizons associated with recently prominent environmental policy problems, such as climate change and nuclear waste storage, have made it important to take seriously both benefits to future generations and extreme uncertainties in projecting the returns to policies and future well being. (2) Findings in the burgeoning field of behavioral economics have made it clear that individuals routinely depart significantly from rational prescriptions when making choices over time, thus undermining a bulwark of the discounting approach. These two sets of dilemmas are addressed in a series of papers under the headings normative analyses and behavioral analyses. These papers use concepts from psychology and philosophy to complement their economic approach.