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Intergenerational Ethics under Resource Constraints

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  • Geir B. Asheim

Abstract

When evaluating long-term policies, economists usually suggest to maximize the sum of discounted utilities. On the one hand, discounted utilitarianism was given a solid axiomatic foundation by Koopmans (Econometrica 1960). On the other hand, this criterion has questionable implications when applied to economic models with resource constraints. This raises the question: What ethical conditions for intergenerational distribution should and can be imposed? I use my discussion of such conditions to illuminate the conflict between equity and efficiency that has been a central theme in the axiomatic literature on intergenerational justice. Moreover, a guide to some recent contributions is presented.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES) in its journal Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 141 (2005)
Issue (Month): III (September)
Pages: 313-330

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Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2005-iii-1

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Keywords: Intergenerational justice; Discounted utilitarianism; Sustainability;

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References

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  1. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003. "Utilitarianism for Infinite Utility Streams: A New Welfare Criterion and Its Axiomatic Characterization," Working Papers 03-05, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  3. Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Hartwick, John M. & Mitra, Tapan & Withagen, Cees, 2007. "Constant savings rates and quasi-arithmetic population growth under exhaustible resource constraints," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 213-229, March.
  4. Asheim, G.B. & Buchholz, W. & Tungodden, B., 1999. "Justifying Sustainability," Papers 5/99, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
  5. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1995. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," MPRA Paper 8609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. 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.
  7. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with Inter-generational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Working Papers 03-03, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  8. Bossert, Walter & Sprumont, Yves & Suzumura, Kotaro, 2007. "Ordering infinite utility streams," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 579-589, July.
  9. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-74, December.
  10. Atkinson, Anthony B, 2001. "The Strange Disappearance of Welfare Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 193-206.
  11. Geir Asheim & Bertil Tungodden, 2004. "Resolving distributional conflicts between generations," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 221-230, 07.
  12. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Bazhanov, Andrei & Belyaev, Alexander, 2009. "Адекватность Закрытой Модели Для Российской Экономики В Задаче Сравнительного Анализа Энергетической Стра�," MPRA Paper 15109, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2010. "A closed form solution to Stollery's global warming problem with temperature in utility," MPRA Paper 22406, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Andrei Bazhanov, 2012. "A Closed-Form Solution to Stollery’s Problem with Damage in Utility," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 39(4), pages 365-386, April.
  4. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2008. "Maximin-optimal sustainable growth in a resource-based imperfect economy," MPRA Paper 16245, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 13 Jul 2009.
  5. Bazhanov, Andrei V., 2013. "Constant-utility paths in a resource-based economy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 342-355.
  6. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2011. "The dependence of the potential sustainability of a resource economy on the initial state: a comparison of models using the example of Russian oil extraction," MPRA Paper 35870, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Bazhanov, Andrei, 2011. "Зависимость Долгосрочного Роста Ресурсной Экономики От Начального Состояния: Сравнение Моделей На Примере �," MPRA Paper 35888, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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