Cameron Hepburn

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Looking Back at Social Discounting Policy: The Influence of Papers, Presentations, Political Preconditions, and Personalities

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Over the past 15 years, government guidelines on social discounting for benefit–cost analysis have been updated in many different countries. These updates appear to reflect the influence of important academic contributions recommending the use of a declining term structure of discount rates. Using qualitative evidence from the United Kingdom, United States, France, and The Netherlands, this article shows that the influence of this academic supply side would not have been possible without the policy demand side and the presence of institutional or charismatic policy brokers acting as policy market makers. We argue that the market analogy is a useful framework for academics seeking to influence policy with their research.

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