IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Justifying social discounting: The rank-discounted utilitarian approach

  • Zuber, Stéphane
  • Asheim, Geir B.

The discounted utilitarian criterion for infinite horizon social choice has been criticized for treating generations unequally. We propose an extended rank-discounted utilitarian (ERDU) criterion instead. The criterion amounts to discounted utilitarianism on non-decreasing streams, but it treats all generations impartially: discounting becomes the mere expression of intergenerational inequality aversion. We show that more inequality averse ERDU societies have higher social discount rates when future generations are better off. We apply the ERDU approach in two benchmark economic growth models and prove that it promotes sustainable policies that maximize discounted utilitarian welfare.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022053111001293
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 147 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 1572-1601

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:147:y:2012:i:4:p:1572-1601
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Grant, Simon & Quiggin, John, 2005. "Increasing uncertainty: a definition," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 117-141, March.
  2. Rebille, Yann, 2007. "Patience in some non-additive models," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 749-763, August.
  3. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00211906 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Tungodden, Bertil, 2001. "Justifying Sustainability," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 252-268, May.
  5. Fleurbaey, Marc & Michel, Philippe, 2003. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 777-802, September.
  6. WEYMARK, John A., . "Generalized Gini inequality indices," CORE Discussion Papers RP 453, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  9. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  10. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1995. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," MPRA Paper 8609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
  12. Zame, William R., 2007. "Can intergenerational equity be operationalized?," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(2), June.
  13. W. M. Gorman, 1968. "The Structure of Utility Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(4), pages 367-390.
  14. Asheim, Geir B., 1991. "Unjust intergenerational allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 350-371, August.
  15. Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
  16. Geir B. Asheim & Tapan Mitra, 2009. "Sustainability and Discounted Utilitarianism in Models of Economic Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 2521, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Dasgupta, Swapan & Mitra, Tapan, 1983. "Intergenerational Equity and Efficient Allocation of Exhaustible Resources," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(1), pages 133-53, February.
  18. Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Intergenerational Equity," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 197-222, 09.
  19. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  20. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  21. DONALDSON, David & WEYMARK, John A., . "Ethically flexible Gini indices for income distributions in the continuum," CORE Discussion Papers RP 520, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  22. Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with InterGenerational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1557-1563, 09.
  23. Bossert, Walter & Sprumont, Yves & Suzumura, Kotaro, 2007. "Ordering infinite utility streams," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 579-589, July.
  24. Van Liedekerke, Luc & Lauwers, Luc, 1997. "Sacrificing the Patrol: Utilitarianism, Future Generations and Infinity," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 159-174, October.
  25. Luc LAUWERS, 2009. "Ordering infinite utility streams comes at the cost of a non-Ramsey set," Working Papers Department of Economics ces09.05, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  26. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
  27. Asheim,G.B. & Buchholz,W., 2000. "The malleability of undiscounted utilitarianism as a criterion of intergenerational justice," Memorandum 37/2000, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  28. Alain Chateauneuf & Michèle Cohen & Isaac Meilijson, 2005. "More pessimism than greediness: a characterization of monotone risk aversion in the Rank-Dependent Expected Utility model," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00211906, HAL.
  29. Cass, David & Mitra, Tapan, 1991. "Indefinitely Sustained Consumption Despite Exhaustible Natural Resources," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 1(2), pages 119-46, April.
  30. Wakker, Peter, 1993. "Additive representations on rank-ordered sets : II. The topological approach," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-26.
  31. Bossert, Walter, 1990. "An axiomatization of the single-series Ginis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 82-92, February.
  32. J. A. Mirrlees, 1967. "Optimum Growth when Technology is Changing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 95-124.
  33. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  34. Chiaki Hara & Tomoichi Shinotsuka & Kotaro Suzumura & Yongsheng Xu, 2008. "Continuity and egalitarianism in the evaluation of infinite utility streams," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 31(2), pages 179-191, August.
  35. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  36. Svensson, Lars-Gunnar, 1980. "Equity among Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1251-56, July.
  37. Birchenhall, C. R. & Grout, P., 1979. "On equal plans with an infinite horizon," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 249-264, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:147:y:2012:i:4:p:1572-1601. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.