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Intergenerational Equity


  • Geir B. Asheim

    (Department of Economics, University of Oslo, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway)


Axiomatic analysis of intergenerational social preferences over infinite streams of well-being faces the following dilemma. Equal treatment of generations combined with sensitivity for the interests of each generation rules out explicitly defined preferences that can rank any pair of infinite well-being streams. Hence, either intergenerational social preferences must be incomplete or equal treatment and sensitivity must be compromised. This critical review of axiomatic analyses of preferences over infinite streams evaluates different kinds of intergenerational social preferences by comparing their axiomatic basis as well as their performance in simple present-future conflicts. The scope for application is discussed, using real-world intergenerational conflicts (such as global warming) as a backdrop.

Suggested Citation

  • Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Intergenerational Equity," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 197-222, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:2:y:2010:p:197-222

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    More about this item


    intergenerational preferences; axiomatic analysis; equal treatment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General


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