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Egalitarianism under population change: Age structure does matter

Author

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  • Boucekkine, R.
  • Fabbri, G.
  • Gozzi, F.

Abstract

We study the compatibility of the optimal population size concepts produced by different social welfare functions and egalitarianism meant as “equal consumption for all individuals of all generations”. Social welfare functions are parameterized by an altruism parameter generating the Benthamite and Millian criteria as polar cases. The economy considered is in continuous time and is populated by homogeneous cohorts with a given life span. Production functions are linear in labor, (costly) procreation is the unique way to transfer resources forward in time. First, we show that egalitarianism is optimal whatever the degree of altruism in “perpetual youth” model, that is when lifetime span is finite but age structure does not matter: in this case egalitarianism does not discriminate between the social welfare functions considered. Then we show that, when life span is finite but age structure matters, egalitarianism does not arise systematically as an optimal outcome. In particular, in a growing economy, that is when population growth is optimal in the long-run, this egalitarian rule can only hold when the welfare function is Benthamite. When altruism is impure, egalitarianism is impossible in the context of a growing economy. Either in the Benthamite or impure altruism cases, procreation is never optimal for small enough life spans, leading to finite time extinction and maximal consumption for all existing individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • Boucekkine, R. & Fabbri, G. & Gozzi, F., 2014. "Egalitarianism under population change: Age structure does matter," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 86-100.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:mateco:v:55:y:2014:i:c:p:86-100
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmateco.2014.10.007
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    Cited by:

    1. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2015. "Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01677308, HAL.
    2. Gregory Ponthiere, 2016. "Utilitarian population ethics and births timing," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 189-238, April.
    3. Raouf Boucekkine & Blanca Martínez & José Ramón Ruiz-Tamarit, 2017. "Optimal Population Growth as an Endogenous Discounting Problem: The Ramsey Case," Working Papers halshs-01579155, HAL.
    4. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2015. "Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01677308, HAL.
    5. Raouf Boucekkine & Giorgio Fabbri & Salvatore Federico & Fausto Gozzi, 2017. "Growth and Agglomeration in the Heterogeneous Space: A Generalized AK Approach," Working Papers halshs-01399995, HAL.
    6. repec:spr:joptap:v:173:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10957-017-1073-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Grégory Ponthière, 2015. "Utilitarian population ethics and births timing," Working Papers halshs-01207185, HAL.
    8. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2015. "Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01677308, HAL.
    9. repec:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0665-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Stelter, Robert, 2016. "Over-aging — Are present-day human populations too old?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 116-143.
    11. Kohei Kamaga, 2016. "Infinite-horizon social evaluation with variable population size," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(1), pages 207-232, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Egalitarianism; Age structure; Total utilitarianism; Impure altruism; Endogenous growth;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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