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Published October 30, 2017 | Submitted
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Attitudes Towards Risk and the Optimal Exploitation of an Exhaustible Resource


The exploitation of a non-renewable natural resource, such as petroleum or mineral ores, is analyzed in a stochastic framework with price uncertainty. The market setting may be either monopolistic or competitive. We demonstrate that the rate of extraction varies directly with the resource owner's willingness to accept risk. Risk preferring owners use the resource more rapidly than risk neutral owners, who in turn deplete the resource more rapidly than risk averse owners. It is also seen that the usual practice of increasing the discount rate to account for risk induces a more rapid rate of resource use, when in fact a slower rate of depletion is desired.

Additional Information

Revised. The author wishes to thank Robert Forsythe and R. Schmalensee for helpful comments on an earlier draft. Published as Lewis, Tracy R. "Attitudes towards risk and the optimal exploitation of an exhaustible resource." Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 4.2 (1977): 111-119.

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