Ben Groom


Ben Groom is an applied economist whose main research focus is on intergenerational equity and social discounting for long-term public projects, such as those relating to climate change and biodiversity conservation. Ben also does empirical work and applied theory on agricultural development and adaptation to climate change, deforestation and biodiversity economics.


Ben studied a BSc in Economics at Sheffield University, an MSC in Environmental and Resource Economics at UCL, and completed his PhD in Economics at UCL in 2005 on the topic of empirical and theoretical aspects of social discounting for distant time horizons.

Ben has a professional background working in environmental and development economics, having spent 2 years as an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) fellow between 1998 and 2000. Since then his work on social discounting has informed government policy guidance in the US, UK, Norway and the Netherlands, inter alia, and also OECD guidance on Cost Benefit Analysis for transport projects. Ben acted as a consultant for numerous international organisations, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the OECD and the WWF. He has also advised governments in lower and middle income countries, such as China, Pakistan and Bolivia, on various aspects of environmental policy. Ben is chair of the scientific committee of the BIOECON network and co-organiser of the annual BIOECON conference.

Research interests

  • Social discounting and intergenerational equity
  • Agricultural economics, adaptation to climate change and the role of new varieties and crop genetic diversity,
  • The economics of biodiversity

Non-Grantham Research Institute published works

Freeman M C, Groom B and Zeckhauser R (2015). ‘Better Signals, Better Allocations: Scientific Advances and Adaptation to Climate Change’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, Volume 373, Issue 2055. PTRANSA

Freeman M C, Groom B, Panipoulou K and Pantelides T (2015). ‘Declining Discount Rates and the Fisher Effect: Inflated Past, Discounted Future’. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. 73, pp.32-49.

Freeman M C and Groom B (2015). ‘Positively Gamma Discounting: Combining the Opinions of Experts on the Social Discount Rate’. The Economic Journal. Volume 125, Issue 585, pp. 1015–1024, F&G (2015)Media summary from Royal Economic Society.

Cropper M L, Freeman M C, Groom B and Pizer W (2014). ‘Declining Discount Rates’. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 104(5): pp. 538-43.

Groom B and Tak M (2015). ‘Welfare Analysis of Changing Food Prices: A Nonparametric Examination of Rice Policies in India’. Food Security, 7(1), pp. 121-141 Groom and Tak (2015)

Arrow, Kenneth J., Maureen L. Cropper, Christian Gollier, Ben Groom, Geoffrey M. Heal, Richard G. Newell, William D. Nordhaus, Robert S. Pindyck,William A. Pizer, Paul R. Portney, Thomas Sterner, Richard S. J. Tol and Martin L. Weitzman (2014). ‘How Should Benefits and Costs be Discounted in an Intergenerational Context?’  Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 8(2) pp. 145-163. Arrow et al (2014)Editor’s Choice.

Freeman M C and Groom B (2014). ‘Using Equity Premium Survey Data to Estimate Future Wealth’. Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting,45(4), pp. 665-693. Freeman and Groom 2014 RQFA

Groom B and Palmer C (2014). ‘Relaxing Constraints as a Conservation Policy’, Environment and Development Economics. 19(4) , pp 505-528, Groom and Palmer (2014),

Arrow, Kenneth J., Maureen L. Cropper, Christian Gollier, Ben Groom, Geoffrey M. Heal, Richard G. Newell, William D. Nordhaus, Robert S. Pindyck, William A. Pizer, Paul R. Portney, Thomas Sterner, Richard S. J. Tol and Martin L. Weitzman (2013). ‘Determining Benefits and Costs for Future Generations’. Science, 341 (6144). pp. 349-350.

Freeman M C and Groom B (2013). ‘Biodiversity and the Discounting Problem’. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 26(5), pp. 715-745,Freeman and Groom (2013).

Swanson T and Groom B (2012). ‘Regulating Global Biodiversity: What’s the problem?’, Oxford Review Economic Policy 28(1): pp. 114-138,DOI:10.1093/oxrep/grs003

Groom B and Palmer C (2012). ‘REDD+ and Rural Livelihoods.’ Biological Conservation, 154, pp. 42-52 Groom and Palmer (2012).

Gatti J.R.J, Goeschl T, Groom B and Swanson T (2011). ‘The Biodiversity Bargaining Problem’. Environmental and Resource Economics, 48(4), pp. 609-630.

Groom B and Palmer C (2010). Cost Effective Provision of Environmental Services: The Importance of Market Constraints. Environment and Development Economics, 15(2), pp. 219-240.

Groom B, Grosjean P, Kontoleon A, Swanson T and Zhang S (2010). ‘Relaxing Constraints with Compensation: A win-win policy for poverty and environment in China?’. Oxford Economics Papers, 62(1), pp. 132-156.

Groom B, Koundouri P, Nauges C and Thomas A (2008). ‘The Story of the Moment: Risk Averse Cypriot Farmers respond to Drought Management’. Applied Economics, 40, pp. 315–326.

Hepburn C and Groom B (2007). ‘Gamma Discounting and Expected Net Future Value’. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 53(1), pp. 99-109.

Groom B, Koundouri P, Panipoulou K and Pantelides T (2007). ‘Declining Discount Rates: How much does model selection affect the certainty equivalent discount rate?’ Journal of Applied Econometrics, 22(3), pp. 641-656.

Groom B, Kontoleon A, Swanson T (2007). ‘Valuing Complex Goods: Or, can you get anything out of experts other than a decision?’. Research in Law and Economics, 23, pp. 301-331.

Groom B, Hepburn C, Koundouri P and Pearce D (2005).  ‘Declining Discount Rates: the long and the short of it’. Environmental and Resource Economics, 32(4), pp. 445-493.


Working paper  18 November, 2019

Inequality aversion and the environment

In this paper the authors provide experimental evidence to illustrate that aversion to environmental inequality is as pronounced as aversion to income inequality and varies across different types of environmental quality. read more »

Working paper  25 March, 2019

Hyperbolic discounting in the absence of credibility

The authors of this paper show theoretically that lack of credibility introduces a present bias, as subjects internalise the uncertainty. Hence, experiments that do not ensure credibility may erroneously conclude that observed behaviour is driven by hyperbolic pure time preferences, rather than the rational response to non-credible payoffs. read more »


Working paper  23 May, 2018

Revisiting the link between cereal diversity and production in Ethiopia

A key policy debate is whether agricultural production should be geared towards input-intensification or diversity of crops. Using data from Ethiopia this paper investigates the effects of crop diversity on production and finds that the impact on productivity may be lower than previously thought. read more »


Working paper  24 July, 2017

Discounting and the representative median agent

Social discount rates (SDRs) are used in cost–benefit analysis to determine the present value of future costs and benefits: for example, to determine how much today’s society should invest in … read more »


Research article  27 July, 2016

Weighing the costs and benefits of climate change to our children

Our efforts to put the brakes on climate change or adapt to a warming climate present a fundamental tradeoff between costs borne today and benefits that accrue to the … read more »


Working paper  27 November, 2015

Discounting disentangled

This working paper finds that current policy guidance concerning social discounting and the evaluation of long-term public projects needs to be updated. read more »

Working paper  10 April, 2015

Crop productivity and adaptation to climate change in Pakistan

This paper investigates whether there are productive benefits for farmers who adapt to climate change in Pakistan. read more »


Working paper  9 September, 2014

Modelling land use, deforestation, and policy analysis: A hybrid optimization-ABM heterogeneous agent model with application to the Bolivian Amazon

Policy interventions designed to simultaneously stem deforestation and reduce poverty in tropical countries entail complex socio-environmental trade-offs. A hybrid model, comprising an optimising, agricultural household model integrated into the ‘shell’ … read more »


Working paper  1 October, 2013

How certain are we about the certainty-equivalent long term social discount rate?

The case for using declining social discount rates when the future is uncertain is now widely accepted in both academic and policy circles. We present sharp … read more »

Working paper  1 August, 2013

Non-identical quadruplets: four new estimates of the elasticity of marginal utility for the UK

This paper reviews the empirical evidence on the value of the elasticity of marginal utility for the United Kingdom. This parameter is a key determinant of … read more »

Working paper  29 March, 2013

Declining discount rates and the Fisher Effect: inflated past, discounted future?

Uncertain, yet persistent, real rates of return to capital underpin one argument for using a  declining schedule of social discount rates. Yet persistency is only present … read more »

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Policy publications  6 March, 2018

Social Discount Rates for Cost -Benefit Analysis: A Report for HM Treasury

A summary report from two workshops on recent advances in social discounting practice and theory. This paper was prepared as a summary of a workshop held in April 2016 on … read more »

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Grantham Workshop 29 May 2019

Inequality Aversion and the Environment | Frank Venmans and Ben Groom

Frank Venmans and Ben Groom will be discussing their paper Inequality Aversion and the Environment. Abstract Measures of inequality aversion and pure time preference are elicited in environmental domains using … read more »


Grantham Workshop 1 Nov 2017

Grantham Workshop | Charles Palmer and Ben Groom

Charles Palmer, Associate Professor of Environment and Development in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics, and Ben Groom, Associate Professor of Environment and Development … read more »

Public Lectures 2 Feb 2017

Public lecture | Do we do enough for the future?

LSE Deparment of Geography and Environment and Grantham Research Institute public lecture, introduced and chaired by Dr Ben Groom In this lecture Prof. Gollier will discuss the way one should value and compare … read more »

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