Social Time Preference Revisited

Posted: 8 Jul 2008

See all articles by Dirk Willenbockel

Dirk Willenbockel

University of Sussex - Institute of Development Studies

Date Written: July 8, 2008


The article reconsiders the implications of the choice of pure social time preference for intergenerational equity in the presence of a time-consistent utilitarian social welfare criterion. The analytic framework is a setting with overlapping generations, lifetime uncertainty, population growth and technical progress. The analysis identifies upper and lower bounds for the feasible range of social discount rates and draws a corresponding distinction between "gerontocratic" and "Stalinist" optimal plans. The paper corrects a number of inaccurate propositions in a related earlier contribution by Marini and Scaramozzino (2000) to this journal.

Keywords: Intergenerational equity, Overlapping generations, Social discount rate, Time consistency

JEL Classification: H43, E13, O41

Suggested Citation

Willenbockel, Dirk, Social Time Preference Revisited (July 8, 2008). Journal of Population Economics, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Dirk Willenbockel (Contact Author)

University of Sussex - Institute of Development Studies ( email )

Falmer, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 9RE
United Kingdom


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