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Formal Welfarism and Intergenerational Equity

In: Intergenerational Equity and Sustainability


  • Claude d’Aspremont


Intergenerational justice is a matter that should primarily concern the present generation, since the individuals living now are those to take immediate decisions affecting generations that will be living in the future, and even in the far future, as we know, for example, from the exhaustibility of some resources or from the long-term effects of pollution such as global warming. Of course, each future generation will become ‘present’ at some point in time, and the reasoning followed for the present ‘present generation’ about intergenerational justice could be repeated at that point in time. But, to develop this reasoning, each present generation should have a representation of future generations’ interests. In that respect, a simple formulation of the problem that has been extensively analyzed consists in trying to find, under equity and efficiency conditions, an ordering of the set of possible ‘infinite utility streams’, that is, of the set of possible infinite sequences of utility levels attached to the successive generations starting with the present generation. In such a formulation, the welfare of each generation is represented by a single utility level, as if a generation were composed of a single individual or of a cohort of identical individuals with identical allocation.

Suggested Citation

  • Claude d’Aspremont, 2007. "Formal Welfarism and Intergenerational Equity," International Economic Association Series, in: John Roemer & Kotaro Suzumura (ed.), Intergenerational Equity and Sustainability, chapter 8, pages 113-130, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:intecp:978-0-230-23676-9_8
    DOI: 10.1057/9780230236769_8

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    Cited by:

    1. Asheim, Geir B. & d'Aspremont, Claude & Banerjee, Kuntal, 2010. "Generalized time-invariant overtaking," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 519-533, July.
    2. Geir B. Asheim & Kuntal Banerjee, 2010. "Fixed‐step anonymous overtaking and catching‐up," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 6(1), pages 149-165, March.
    3. Alcantud, José Carlos R. & García-Sanz, María D., 2009. "A comment on "Intergenerational equity: sup, inf, lim sup, and lim inf"," MPRA Paper 14763, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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