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Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles


  • Charles Blackorby
  • Walter Bossert
  • David Donaldson


This paper considers the problem of social evaluation in a model where population size, individual lifetime utilities, lengths of life, and birth dates vary across states. We investigate principles for social evaluation in an intertemporal framework and show that history must matter to some extent if they are to be ethically acceptable. Using an axiom called independence of the utilities of the dead, we provide a characterization of Critical-Level Generalized Utilitarian rules. As a by-product of our analysis, we show that social discounting is ruled out in an intertemporal welfarist environment. A simple population-planning example is also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," CESifo Working Paper Series 86, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_86

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