Short-termism in decision-making

The prerequisite for long-term decision-making is our ability to perceive and identify, in addition to our own future interests, the perspectives of future generations. In some situations, we must be able to make sacrifices to ensure the wellbeing of these future generations. Political decision-making should, in principle, strive for solutions that can best withstand the test of time. Constitutional laws define the structures and powers of political institutions for decades at a time. Other decisions – such as public budgets, energy and climate policies, and final disposal sites for nuclear waste – require careful consideration due to their far-reaching nature. These decisions do not concern just current generations, but future generations as well.

The PALO project assesses the issues related to short-termism in decision-making from multiple perspectives. From a philosophical standpoint, the project focuses on the ethical problems involved in short-termism and how these problems could be addressed. From the perspective of behavioural science, the project analyses the individual and group psychological factors leading to short-term decision-making and how these propensities could be avoided. Social science research methods help us assess how different institutions and practices of public decision-making of citizen participation affect policy-makers’ time horizons. For example, we aim to survey the views on long-term decision-making among current policy-makers at various levels of governance. We will also make recommendations on how decision-making institutions and practices could be developed so that the influence of short-termism could be decreased.