The Spaceship Problem Re-Examined
AbstractThis paper re-examines the spaceship problem, i.e. the design of the optimal population under the environmental constraint of a fixed area available for life, by focusing on the dilemma between adding new beings and extending the life of existing beings. For that purpose, we characterize, under the assumption that individual lifetime welfare depends positively on the length of life but negatively on population density, the preference ordering of a utilitarian planner over lifetime-equal histories, i.e. pairs of initial population size and survival conditions yielding an equal number of life periods. It is shown that a Benthamite planner is not necessarily indifferent between lifetime-equal histories, and that a Millian utilitarian planner prefers lifetime-equal histories yielding the smallest population with the longest life. The solutions under Critical-level and Number-dampened utilitarianisms are also shown to differ significantly.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX in its series EconomiX Working Papers with number 2008-28.
Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
environmental congestion; fertility; longevity; population ethics; utilitarianism;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
- Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
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