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Sustainable recursive social welfare functions

Author

Listed:
  • Geir Asheim
  • Tapan Mitra
  • Bertil Tungodden

Abstract

What ethical criterion for intergenerational justice should be adopted, e.g., when faced with the task of managing the global environment? Koopmans ’ axiomatization of discounted utilitarianism is based on seemingly compelling conditions, yet this criterion leads to hard-to-justify outcomes. The present analysis considers a class of sustainable recursive social welfare functions within Koopmans ’ general framework. This class is axiomatized by means of a weak equity condition (“Hammond Equity for the Future”) and general existence is established. Any member of the class satisfies the key axioms of Chichilnisky’s ’s “sustainable preferences”. The analysis singles out one of Koopmans’ original separability conditions (his Postulate $$3'$$ a), here called “Independent Present”, as particularly questionable from an ethical perspective.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:49:y:2012:i:2:p:267-292
    DOI: 10.1007/s00199-010-0573-7
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational justice; Sustainability; Discounted utilitarianism; D63; D71; Q01;
    All these keywords.

    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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