Utilitarianism and unequal longevities : A remedy?
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).
|Date of creation:||01 Jul 2010|
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