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Decisions that influence outcomes in the distant future

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1 Author(s)
Owen, Patricia A. ; SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025

An alternative solution to the classic social discount problem of making decisions that influence outcomes on future generations is presented. The methodology assumes that individuals in the current generation are the decisionmakers. The decision criterion is net willingness to pay, computed from current individuals, preferences for their own consumption and the well-being of others, including those in the future. Unlike cost-benefit analysis the approach assumes that decisions are made by a “social brokerage firm” acting consistently with the voluntary choices of individuals. An example of the federal government's decision whether to store helium underground for the future is used to compare the proposed approach with the use of social discount rates.

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Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:SMC-13 ,  Issue: 1 )