Endogenous preferences

wordleI am happy to announce that my article entitled “Threshold Preferences and the Environment”, co-authored with Benteng Zou from the University of Luxembourg, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Mathematical Economics. While the journal will publish a slightly shortened version of the article (without section 2), you can find the full version HERE. What is the paper about?

Read More

  • An animated chart of global marine fish stocks from The Economist HERE. Basically, while in 1950 roughly 90% of the fish stocks were in their natural state, in 2009 90% are either fully exploited, over-exploited or collapsed. From the FAO report The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014: “Global fish production continues to outpace world population growth, and aquaculture remains one of the fastest-growing food producing sectors. In 2012, aquaculture set another all-time production high and now provides almost half of all fish for human food.” Though this seems to be good news, Katheline Schubert and Esther Regnier have a paper together on aquaculture where they show that aquaculture can, nevertheless, have negative consequences on fish stocks. Under some conditions, “Aquaculture worsens the pressure on the wild edible fish stock and leads to a decrease of total wild fish stocks in the long run.”
  • Writing at the Energy Institute at Haas, Meredith Fowlie suggests that moral suasion is no substitute for getting the price right. Her comment is based on a paper by Koichiro Ito and co-authors,  who find the following: “Firms and governments often use moral suasion and economic incentives to influence intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for various economic activities. To investigate the persistence of such interventions, we randomly assigned households to moral suasion and dynamic pricing that stimulate energy conservation during peak demand hours. Using household-level consumption data for 30-minute intervals, we find significant short-run effects of moral suasion, but the effects diminished quickly after repeated interventions. Economic incentives produced larger and persistent effects, which induced habit formation after the final interventions. While each policy produces substantial welfare gains, economic incentives provide particularly large gains when we consider persistence.” It would be interesting to also know whether moral suasion together with some peer pressure would not lead to more persistent results. Also, it is really surprising that price incentives would lead to long-run effects. While the authors forward habit formation as a possible argument, it would be interesting to know whether the price effects still linger on now (i.e. 1-2 year after).
  • Thursday: Jeudi 21 mai 12:30-13:30 Emma Hooper (GREQAM, Aix-Marseille School of Economics) will present Sustainable growth and financial markets in a natural resource rich country, at PSE in Paris (see Environmental Economics Calendar).

So today I present some new work that I did together with my co-author Benteng Zou from the Department of Economics at the University of Luxembourg. We have a previous work together on endogenous preferences and environmental economics, which you can find HERE and download HERE. We have kept interest in the role that endogenous preferences play for the environment, and our current article also studies this particular role. It is entitled “Threshold Preferences and the Environment“. What do we do? Here is the abstract:

In this article we study the implication of thresholds in preferences. To model this we extend the basic model of John and Pecchenino (1994) by allowing the current level of environmental quality to have a discrete impact on how an agent trades off future consumption and environmental quality. In other words, we endogenize the semi-elasticity of utility based on a step function. We motivate the existence of the threshold based on research from political science, from arguments based on regulation and standards, cultural economics as well as ecological economics.

Our results are that the location of the threshold determines both the potential steady states as well as the dynamics. For low (high) thresholds,  environmental quality converges to a low (high) steady state. For intermediate levels it converges to a stable p-cycle, with environmental quality being asymptotically bounded below and above by the low and high steady state. We discuss implications for intergenerational equity and policy making.

As policy implications  we study shifts in the threshold. Our results are that, in case it is costless to shift the threshold, it is always worthwhile to do so. If it is costly to change the threshold, then it is worthwhile to change the threshold if the threshold originally was sufficiently low. Lump-sum taxes may lead to a  development trap and should be avoided if there are uncertainties about the threshold or the effectiveness of the policy.

If you are interested, you can download our new paper HERE. Please feel free to think, discuss and comment, openly or privately. We are happy about any discussion. Enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: