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Escaping the Repugnant Conclusion: Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism with Variable Population

  • Geir B. Asheim
  • Stéphane Zuber

Evaluation of climate policies and other issues requires a variable population setting where population is endogenously determined. We propose and axiomatize the rank-discounted critical-level utilitarian social welfare order. It is shown to fill out the space between critical-level utilitarianism and (a version of) critical-level leximin. Moreover, it satisfies many conditions and principles used to evaluate variable population criteria. In particular, it avoids the repugnant conclusion even when the critical level is zero.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-10/cesifo1_wp3958.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3958.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3958
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  1. Palivos, Theodore & Yip, Chong K., 1993. "Optimal population size and endogenous growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 107-110.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521825511 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Broome, John, 2004. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199243761, March.
  4. Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Intergenerational Equity," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 197-222, 09.
  5. Razin, Assaf & Yuen, Chi-Wa, 1995. "Utilitarian Tradeoff between Population Growth and Income Growth," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 81-87, February.
  6. Zuber, Stéphane & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Justifying social discounting: The rank-discounted utilitarian approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1572-1601.
  7. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. " Population Principles with Number-Dependent Critical Levels," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(3), pages 347-68.
  8. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521532587 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
  10. Carlson, Erik, 1998. "Mere Addition and Two Trilemmas of Population Ethics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(02), pages 283-306, October.
  11. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1989. "What Should We Do About Future Generations?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 235-253, October.
  12. Blackorby, C. & Rossert, W. & Donaldson, D., 1994. "Leximin Population Ethics," Working Papers 9412, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
  13. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-20, November.
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