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Utilitarianism and unequal longevities : A remedy?

  • LEROUX, Marie - Louise

    ()

    (CORE, Université catholique de Louvain, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

  • PONTHIERE, Grégory

    ()

    (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, and Paris School of Economics, F-75014 Paris, France)

This paper re-examines a counterintuitive corollary of utilitarianism under unequal longevities: the tendency to redistribute resources from short-lived towards long-lived agents, against any intuition of compensation. It is shown that this corollary prevails not only under time-additive lifetime welfare, but, also, in general, under non-additive lifetime welfare, so that this counterintuitive redistributive corollary is a robust argument against utilitarianism. This paper studies a remedy to that counterintuitive corollary. This consists in imputing, when solving the social planner's problem, the consumption equivalent of a long life to the consumption of long- lived agents. We identify the conditions under which such a modified utilitarian optimum involves a compensation of short-lived agents with respect to the laissez-faire. That remedy is also applied to an economy with risky longevity, where short-lived agents are penalized not only by the limited opportunities to spread resources over time (due to a shorter life), but, also, by lost savings (due to unanticipated death).

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2010043.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2010043
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  1. Marie-Louise Leroux & Grégory Ponthière, 2008. "Optimal tax policy and expected longevity: A mean and variance utility approach," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586247, HAL.
  2. Marie-Louise Leroux & Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2011. "Optimal linear taxation under endogenous longevity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 213-237, January.
  3. Winfried Pohlmeier & Luc Bauwens & David Veredas, 2007. "High frequency financial econometrics. Recent developments," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/136223, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521681599 is not listed on IDEAS
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