Intergenerational justice when future worlds are uncertain
Let there be a positive (exogenous) probability that, at each date, the human species will disappear. We postulate an Ethical Observer (EO) who maximizes intertemporal welfare under this uncertainty, with expected-utility preferences. Various social welfare criteria entail alternative von Neumann- Morgenstern utility functions for the EO: utilitarianism, Rawlsianism, and an extension of the latter that corrects for the size of population. Our analysis covers, first, a cake-eating economy, where the utilitarian and Rawlsian recommend the same allocation. Second, a productive economy with education and capital. There, however, the recommendations of the two Ethical Observers are in general different. But when the utilitarian program diverges, then it is optimal for the extended Rawlsian to ignore the uncertainty concerning the possible disappearance of the human species in the future. We conclude discussing the implications for intergenerational welfare maximization in the presence of global warming.
|Date of creation:||26 Mar 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616-8578|
Phone: (530) 752-0741
Fax: (530) 752-9382
Web page: http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003.
"Utilitarianism for Infinite Utility Streams: A New Welfare Criterion and Its Axiomatic Characterization,"
03-05, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
- 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.
- Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2008.
"A Dynamic Analysis of Human Welfare in a Warming Planet,"
358, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
- Llavador, Humberto & Roemer, John E. & Silvestre, Joaquim, 2011. "“A dynamic analysis of human welfare in a warming planet”," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1607-1620.
- Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre & Joaquim Silvestre, 2009. "A Dynamic Analysis Of Human Welfare In A Warming Planet?," Working Papers 95, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
- Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2008. "A Dynamic Analysis of Human Welfare in a Warming Planet," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1673, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2008. "A dynamic analysis of human welfare in a warming planet," Economics Working Papers 1110, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Feb 2010.
- Humberto Llavador & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 2009. "A Dynamic Analysis of Human Welfare in a Warming Planet," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1673R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- R. M. Solow, 1974.
"Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustible Resources,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 41(5), pages 29-45.
- R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Dasgupta, Partha, 1974. "On some alternative criteria for justice between generations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 405-423, November.
- E. S. Phelps & J. G. Riley, 1978. "Rawlsian Growth: Dynamic Programming of Capital and Wealth for Intergeneration "Maximin" Justice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(1), pages 103-120.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:09-4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Scott Dyer)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.