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Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles

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  • Blackorby, Charles
  • Bossert, Walter
  • Donaldson, David

Abstract

This paper considers the problem of social evaluation in a model where population size, individual lifetime utilities, lengths of life, and birth dates vary across states. In an intertemporal framework, the authors investigate principles for social evaluation that allow history to matter to some extent. Using an axiom called independence of the utilities of the dead, they provide a characterization of critical-level generalized utilitarian rules. As a by-product of their analysis, the authors show that social discounting is ruled out in an intertemporal welfarist environment. A simple population-planning example is also discussed. Copyright 1995 by The Econometric Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-1320, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:63:y:1995:i:6:p:1303-20
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