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Utilitarianism and unequal longevities: A remedy?

Listed author(s):
  • Leroux, Marie-Louise
  • Ponthiere, Gregory

In the context of unequal deterministic longevities, classical utilitarianism exhibits, under time-additive individual preferences, a counterintuitive tendency to redistribute resources from short-lived agents towards long-lived agents, against any intuition for compensation. We examine the robustness of that result to the introduction of risky lifetime, and to a broader class of individual preferences. It is shown that classical utilitarianism remains unable to provide, in that broader framework, a general redistribution towards the short-lived. Then, we propose a remedy, which consists in imputing, when solving the social planner's allocation problem, the consumption equivalent of a long life to the consumption of long-lived agents. This compensation-constrained utilitarianism is shown to reduce welfare inequalities across agents with unequal lifetimes.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264999312003422
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economic Modelling.

Volume (Year): 30 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 888-899

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:30:y:2013:i:c:p:888-899
DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2012.10.006
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/30411

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  1. repec:pse:psecon:2008-46 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Marie-Louise Leroux & Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthière, 2011. "Optimal Linear Taxation under Endogenous Longevity," Post-Print halshs-00754569, HAL.
  3. Marc Fleurbaey, 2010. "Assessing Risky Social Situations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 649-680, 08.
  4. Dan Usher, 1973. "An Imputation to the Measure of Economic Growth for Changes in Life Expectancy," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Economic and Social Performance, pages 193-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Marie-Louise Leroux & Grégory Ponthière, 2009. "Optimal tax policy and expected longevity: a mean and variance utility approach," Post-Print halshs-00754344, HAL.
  6. Rabah Amir, 2005. "Supermodularity and Complementarity in Economics: An Elementary Survey," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 636-660, January.
  7. Marc Fleurbaey, 2005. "Health, wealth and fairness," Post-Print hal-00247025, HAL.
  8. Bommier, Antoine & Leroux, Marie-Louise & Lozachmeur, Jean-Marie, 2011. "On the public economics of annuities with differential mortality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 612-623.
  9. Marie-Louise Leroux & Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthiere, 2009. "Should we Subsidize Longevity?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2614, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Antoine Bommier, 2006. "Uncertain Lifetime And Intertemporal Choice: Risk Aversion As A Rationale For Time Discounting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1223-1246, November.
  11. Fleurbaey, Marc & Leroux, Marie-Louise & Ponthiere, Gregory, 2014. "Compensating the dead," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 28-41.
  12. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," NBER Working Papers 9765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. LEROUX, Marie-Louise & PONTHIERE, Grégory, 2008. "Optimal tax policy and expected longevity: a mean and variance approach," CORE Discussion Papers 2008039, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Broome, John, 2004. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199243761, December.
  15. Fleurbaey,Marc & Maniquet,François, 2011. "A Theory of Fairness and Social Welfare," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521715348, May.
  16. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1971. "A Utilitarian Approach to the Concept of Equality in Public Expenditures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(3), pages 409-415.
  17. Winfried Pohlmeier & Luc Bauwens & David Veredas, 2007. "High frequency financial econometrics. Recent developments," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/136223, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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