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Multi-profile intergenerational social choice

  • Walter Bossert


  • Kotaro Suzumura


Ferejohn and Page transplanted a stationarity axiom from Koopmans’ theory of impatience into Arrow’s social choice theory with an infinite horizon and showed that the Arrow axioms and stationarity lead to a dictatorship by the first generation. We prove that the negative implications of their stationarity axiom are more far-reaching: there is no Arrow social welfare function satisfying their stationarity axiom. We propose a more suitable stationarity axiom, and show that an Arrow social welfare function satisfies this modified version if and only if it is a lexicographic dictatorship where the generations are taken into consideration in chronological order.

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Article provided by Springer & The Society for Social Choice and Welfare in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 37 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 493-509

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:37:y:2011:i:3:p:493-509
DOI: 10.1007/s00355-010-0501-6
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  1. John Ferejohn & Talbot Page, 1978. "On the Foundations of Intertemporal Choice," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 60(2), pages 269-275.
  2. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Equity, Arrow's Conditions, and Rawls' Difference Principle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 793-804, July.
  3. 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.
  4. KIRMAN, Alan P. & SONDERMANN, Dieter, . "Arrow's theorem, many agents, and indivisible dictators," CORE Discussion Papers RP 118, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Svensson, Lars-Gunnar, 1980. "Equity among Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1251-56, July.
  6. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2007. "Utilitarianism for infinite utility streams: A new welfare criterion and its axiomatic characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 350-373, March.
  7. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. Campbell, Donald E., 1990. "Intergenerational social choice without the Pareto principle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 414-423, April.
  9. Asheim, Geir B. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2005. "A new equity condition for infinite utility streams and the possibility of being Paretian," Memorandum 08/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  10. Bossert, Walter & Sprumont, Yves & Suzumura, Kotaro, 2007. "Ordering infinite utility streams," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 579-589, July.
  11. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with Inter-generational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Working Papers 03-03, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  12. Kotaro Suzumura, 1999. "Welfare Economics Beyond Welfarist-Consequentialism," Discussion Paper Series a382, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
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