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On the impossibility of representing infinite utility streams


  • Crespo, Juan A.
  • Núñez, Carmelo
  • Rincón-Zapatero, Juan Pablo


We show that, independently of the topology chosen on the set of all infinity utility streams, there is no Social Welfare Function preserving the von Weizsäcker’s overtaking criterion. With our proof we extend the impossibility result of Basu and Mitra.

Suggested Citation

  • Crespo, Juan A. & Núñez, Carmelo & Rincón-Zapatero, Juan Pablo, 2007. "On the impossibility of representing infinite utility streams," UC3M Working papers. Economics we075530, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:werepe:we075530

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with InterGenerational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1557-1563, September.
    2. Geir Asheim & Bertil Tungodden, 2004. "Resolving distributional conflicts between generations," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 24(1), pages 221-230, July.
    3. Banerjee, Kuntal, 2006. "On the equity-efficiency trade off in aggregating infinite utility streams," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 63-67, October.
    4. Lauwers, Luc, 1998. "Intertemporal objective functions: Strong pareto versus anonymity," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 37-55, January.
    5. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2005. "Possibility Theorems for Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams Equitably," Working Papers 05-05, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    6. Zame, William R., 2007. "Can intergenerational equity be operationalized?," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(2), June.
    7. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2005. "On the Existence of Paretian Social Welfare Relations for Infinite Utility Streams with Extended Anonymity," Working Papers 05-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alcantud, José Carlos R., 2013. "Fuzzy sets from the ethics of social preferences," MPRA Paper 53549, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. repec:spr:etbull:v:1:y:2013:i:2:d:10.1007_s40505-013-0005-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Michele Lombardi & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd09-078, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    4. José Carlos R. Alcantud & María D. García-Sanz, 2013. "Evaluations of Infinite Utility Streams: Pareto Efficient and Egalitarian Axiomatics," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 432-447, July.
    5. MERTENS, Jean-François & RUBINCHIK, Anna, 2006. "Intergenerational equity and the discount rate for cost-benefit analysis," CORE Discussion Papers 2006091, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    6. Ram Sewak Dubey & Tapan Mitra, 2011. "On equitable social welfare functions satisfying the Weak Pareto Axiom: A complete characterization," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 7(3), pages 231-250, September.
    7. Banerjee, Kuntal & Dubey, Ram, 2011. "Impatience for Weakly Paretian Orders: Existence and Genericity," Working Papers 2011-03, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
    8. repec:wly:econjl:v:126:y:2016:i:597:p:2173-2196 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mariotti, Marco & Veneziani, Roberto, 2012. "Allocating chances of success in finite and infinite societies: The utilitarian criterion," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 226-236.
    10. Banerjee, Kuntal & Dubey, Ram Sewak, 2014. "Do all constructive strongly monotone inter-temporal orders exhibit impatience?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 66-69.
    11. repec:eee:mateco:v:71:y:2017:i:c:p:28-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Banerjee, Kuntal & Dubey, Ram Sewak, 2013. "Impatience implication of weakly Paretian orders: Existence and genericity," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 134-140.
    13. José Carlos R. Alcantud, 2013. "The impossibility of social evaluations of infinite streams with strict inequality aversion," Economic Theory Bulletin, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 1(2), pages 123-130, November.
    14. Dubey, Ram Sewak, 2011. "Fleurbaey–Michel conjecture on equitable weak Paretian social welfare order," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(4-5), pages 434-439.
    15. Dubey, Ram Sewak & Mitra, Tapan, 2014. "On construction of equitable social welfare orders on infinite utility streams," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 53-60.

    More about this item


    Intergenerational equity;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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