Recap: “Discounting the Future”

The March Columbus Futurists was held in Thompson Library room 165 on the Ohio State campus.

Policies whose foreseeable costs and benefits are spread over long time periods—as they are in CO2 reduction policies—raise the ethical question of what we owe to future generations. But this question can be hidden behind the choice of a “discount rate,” a parameter used in economic analysis that allows for the comparison of the value of consumption occurring in different years. Even a low discount rate over a longer period of time can make the disvalue of future costs negligible in the present, thereby greatly privileging benefits to the present generation over costs to future ones. This panel will explore the economic and ethical questions raised by the use of a discount rate in long-term policy-making.
Participants included:
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