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Escaping the Repugnant Conclusion: Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism with Variable Population

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  • Geir B. Asheim
  • Stéphane Zuber

Abstract

Evaluation of climate policies and other issues requires a variable population setting where population is endogenously determined. We propose and axiomatize the rank-discounted critical-level utilitarian social welfare order. It is shown to fill out the space between critical-level utilitarianism and (a version of) critical-level leximin. Moreover, it satisfies many conditions and principles used to evaluate variable population criteria. In particular, it avoids the repugnant conclusion even when the critical level is zero.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-10/cesifo1_wp3958.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3958.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3958

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Keywords: social evaluation; population ethics; critical-level utilitarianism; social discounting;

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  1. Stéphane Zuber & Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Justifying Social Discounting: The Rank-Discounted Utilitarian Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 3192, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Razin, Assaf & Yuen, Chi-Wa, 1995. "Utilitarian Tradeoff between Population Growth and Income Growth," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 81-87, February.
  3. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1996. "Leximin population ethics," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 115-131, April.
  4. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2000. "Population Principles with Number-Dependent Critical Levels," Working Papers 2000-06, Rice University, Department of Economics.
  5. Carlson, Erik, 1998. "Mere Addition and Two Trilemmas of Population Ethics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(02), pages 283-306, October.
  6. Blackorby,Charles & Bossert,Walter & Donaldson,David J., 2005. "Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521825511, Fall.
  7. Palivos, Theodore & Yip, Chong K., 1993. "Optimal population size and endogenous growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 107-110.
  8. Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Intergenerational Equity," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 197-222, 09.
  9. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-20, November.
  10. Broome, John, 2004. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199243761, Octomber.
  11. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
  12. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1989. "What Should We Do About Future Generations?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 235-253, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Geir B. Asheim & Stéphane Zuber, 2014. "Probability Adjusted Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism," CESifo Working Paper Series 4728, CESifo Group Munich.

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