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Longer life, higher welfare?

  • Michael Grimm
  • Kenneth Harttgen

Whereas life expectancy continues to increase in most industrialized countries, many developing and transition countries are today confronted with decreases in life expectancy. Usual measures employed to compare welfare over time and space fail to deal with such demographic change and may lead to the so-called 'repugnant conclusion' that lower life expectancy involves higher welfare per capita. We illustrate this type of transmission channel using various welfare criteria and reference populations. We also consider feed-back effects from the demography on the economy using a neo-classical growth model. We show that the 'repugnant conclusion' can be avoided if we choose a lifetime welfare measure instead of a period (or snapshot) welfare measure. All concepts are illustrated empirically using a small sample of developed and developing countries. Copyright 2008 , Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oep/gpm025
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 60 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 193-211

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:60:y:2008:i:2:p:193-211
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  1. Kanbur, Ravi & Mukherjee, Diganta, 2003. "Premature Mortality And Poverty Measurement," Working Papers 127197, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  2. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
  4. Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "On the contribution of demographic change to aggregate poverty measures for the developing world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3580, The World Bank.
  5. Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of Aids and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466, May.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521825511 is not listed on IDEAS
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