The Malleability of Undiscounted Utilitarianism as a Criterion of Intergenerational Justice
Undiscounted utilitarianism as a criterion of intergeneration justice has been questioned for different reasons: It has been argued (1) that any complete ordering of allocations with an infinite number of generations guaranteeing an optimal allocation must involve discounting, and (2) that undiscounted utilitarianism subjects the present generation to heavy demands and leads to outcomes that do not appeal to our ethical intuitions. In a previous work (Asheim, Buchholz & Tungodden, forthcoming in J. Env. Econ. Man.) we have shown that equal treatment of different generations is not incompatible with the existence of maximal allocations, given that one considers technologies that are productive (in a given sense). In this paper we consider the second argument. We show within three classes of technologies (linear, Ramsey and Dasgupta-Heal-Solow tech-nologies) that undiscounted utilitarianism is so malleable that any efficient and non-decreasing allocation can be the unique optimum given the utilitarian criterion, provided that the utility function is appropriately chosen. Hence, undiscounted utilitarianism allows for optimal allocations and need not lead to unequal distributions imposing a too heavy burden on the present generation.
|Date of creation:||2000|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page: http://www.cesifo.de
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Tungodden, Bertil, 2001.
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,
Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 252-268, May.
- Heal, Geoffrey M., 1993.
"The optimal use of exhaustible resources,"
Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics,
in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 855-880
- Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Cass, David, 1990.
"Indefinitely sustained consumption despite exhaustible natural resources,"
CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange)
- Cass, David & Mitra, Tapan, 1991. "Indefinitely Sustained Consumption Despite Exhaustible Natural Resources," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 119-46, April.
- Kreps, David M. & Porteus, Evan L., 1979. "Temporal von neumann-morgenstern and induced preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 81-109, February.
- Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1995. "Intergenerational discounting," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 395-401.
- John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
- Dasgupta, Swapan & Mitra, Tapan, 1983. "Intergenerational Equity and Efficient Allocation of Exhaustible Resources," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 24(1), pages 133-53, February.
- R. M. Solow, 1973. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustable Resources," Working papers 103, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Frank Cowell, 1998.
"Measurement of inequality,"
LSE Research Online Documents on Economics
2084, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Marc FLEURBAEY & Philippe MICHEL, 1994. "Optimal Growth and Transfers between Generations," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1994031, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
- Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
- Mitra, Tapan, 1978. "Efficient growth with exhaustible resources in a neoclassical model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 114-129, February.
- Svensson, Lars-Gunnar, 1980. "Equity among Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1251-56, July.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_392. 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: (Julio Saavedra)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.