NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

A Precautionary Tale of Uncertain Tail Fattening

Martin L. Weitzman

NBER Working Paper No. 18144
Issued in June 2012
NBER Program(s):   EEE

Suppose that there is a probability density function for how bad things might get, but that the overall rate at which this probability density function slims down to approach zero in the tail is uncertain. The paper shows how a basic precautionary principle of tail fattening could then apply. The worse is the contemplated damage, the more should a decision maker consider the bad tail to be among the relatively fatter-tailed possibilities. A rough numerical example is applied to the uncertain tail distribution of climate sensitivity.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18144

Published: Martin Weitzman, 2013. "A Precautionary Tale of Uncertain Tail Fattening," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(2), pages 159-173, June.

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