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The Malleability of Undiscounted Utilitarianism as a Criterion of Intergenerational Justice

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  • Geir B. Asheim
  • Wolfgang Buchholz

Abstract

Discounting future utilities is often justified by the ethically motivated objective of protecting earlier generations from the excessive saving that seems to be implied by undiscounted utilitarianism in productive economies. We question this justification of discounting by showing that undiscounted utilitarianism has sufficient malleability within important classes of technologies: any efficient and non-decreasing allocation can be the unique optimum according to an undiscounted utilitarian criterion for some choice of utility function. Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science 2003.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 70 (2003)
Issue (Month): 279 (08)
Pages: 405-422

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:70:y:2003:i:279:p:405-422

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  1. Heal, Geoffrey M., 1993. "The optimal use of exhaustible resources," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 855-880 Elsevier.
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  16. Marc FLEURBAEY & Philippe MICHEL, 1994. "Optimal Growth and Transfers between Generations," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1994031, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
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Cited by:
  1. Stéphane Zuber & Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Justifying Social Discounting: The Rank-Discounted Utilitarian Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 3192, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Mabrouk, Mohamed, 2006. "Allais-anonymity as an alternative to the discounted-sum criterion in the calculus of optimal growth I: Consensual optimality," MPRA Paper 10512, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. repec:euv:dpaper:001 is not listed on IDEAS

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