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Sustainability and discounted utilitarianism in models of economic growth

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  • Asheim, Geir B.
  • Mitra, Tapan

Abstract

Discounted utilitarianism treats generations unequally and leads to seemingly unappealing consequences in some models of economic growth. Instead, this paper presents and applies sustainable discounted utilitarianism (SDU). SDU respects the interests of future generations and resolves intergenerational conflicts by imposing on discounted utilitarianism that the evaluation be insensitive to the interests of the present generation if the present is better off than the future. An SDU social welfare function always exists. We provide a convenient sufficient condition to identify SDU optima and apply SDU to two well-known models of economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Asheim, Geir B. & Mitra, Tapan, 2010. "Sustainability and discounted utilitarianism in models of economic growth," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 148-169, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:matsoc:v:59:y:2010:i:2:p:148-169
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    Cited by:

    1. Maik T. Schneider & Christian Traeger & Ralph Winkler, 2010. "Trading Off Generations: Infinitely-Lived Agent Versus OLG," Diskussionsschriften dp1007, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    2. repec:ipg:wpaper:2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Geir Asheim & Tapan Mitra & Bertil Tungodden, 2012. "Sustainable recursive social welfare functions," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(2), pages 267-292, February.
    4. Dietz, Simon & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Climate policy under sustainable discounted utilitarianism," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 321-335.
    5. Zuber, Stéphane & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Justifying social discounting: The rank-discounted utilitarian approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1572-1601.
    6. Christine Carmody, 2012. "Considering future generations - sustainability in theory and practice," Economic Roundup, The Treasury, Australian Government, issue 3, pages 65-91, October.
    7. Mitra, Tapan & Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Withagen, Cees, 2013. "Characterizing the sustainability problem in an exhaustible resource model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(5), pages 2164-2182.
    8. Luc Lauwers, 2012. "Intergenerational equity, efficiency, and constructibility," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(2), pages 227-242, February.
    9. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Targets for global climate policy: An overview," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 911-928.
    10. Alain Ayong Le Kama & Thai Ha-Huy & Cuong Le Van & Katheline Schubert, 2014. "A never-decisive and anonymous criterion for optimal growth models," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(2), pages 281-306, February.
    11. Geir B. Asheim & Frikk Nesje, 2016. "Destructive Intergenerational Altruism," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 957-984.
    12. Wojciech Rybicki, 2012. "Discounting and ideas of intergenerational equity and sustainability," Operations Research and Decisions, Wroclaw University of Technology, Institute of Organization and Management, vol. 1, pages 63-84.
    13. Geir B. Asheim & Ivar Ekeland, 2016. "Resource conservation across generations in a Ramsey–Chichilnisky model," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 61(4), pages 611-639, April.
    14. Geir B. Asheim, 2017. "Sustainable growth," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 49(3), pages 825-848, December.
    15. repec:ipg:wpaper:2013-002 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Geir B. Asheim, 2014. "Equitable intergenerational preferences and sustainability," Chapters,in: Handbook of Sustainable Development, chapter 8, pages 125-139 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. Schneider, Maik T. & Traeger, Christian P. & Winkler, Ralph, 2012. "Trading off generations: Equity, discounting, and climate change," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1621-1644.
    18. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Climate policy with Bentham–Rawls preferences," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 424-428.
    19. Frederick Ploeg, 2011. "Rapacious Resource Depletion, Excessive Investment and Insecure Property Rights: A Puzzle," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 48(1), pages 105-128, January.
    20. Cameron Hepburn & Greer Gosnell, 2014. "Evaluating impacts in the distant future: cost–benefit analysis, discounting and the alternatives," Chapters,in: Handbook of Sustainable Development, chapter 9, pages 140-159 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    21. Frederick van der Ploeg, 2009. "Rapacious Resource Depletion and Excessive Investment Fuelled by Rival Factions and Insecure Property Rights," OxCarre Working Papers 016, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    22. Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2010. "Rapacious Resource Depletion, Excessive Investment and Insecure Property Rights," CESifo Working Paper Series 2981, CESifo Group Munich.
    23. 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

    Intergenerational equity Sustainability Discounted utilitarianism Egalitarian consumption streams Efficiency Exhaustible resources;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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