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Formal welfarism and intergenerational equity

  • Claude, d’ASPREMONT

    (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Department of Economics)

The formulation of the problem of justice among generations as the problem of finding an ordering of infinite utility streams is examined within the ‘social welfare functional’ approach to social choice. This formulation usually presumes a double reduction not only the classical ‘welfarist’ reduction, according to which ‘utility’ provides all the information required to construct a social evaluation rule, but also the aggregation of the individual utility levels at each generation into a single utility level. We shall argue that this second type of reduction obliterates the relationship between the values judgments made in the social evaluation of the welfare of the presently living generation with that of future generations and does not emphasize the capacity for many social evaluation criteria (including pure utilitarianism and Leximin) to ’proliferate’ from the present generation to any larger set of generations. Our results concerning the orderings generated by such proliferating rules are compared to characterisations already given in the literature.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques in its series Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) with number 2005051.

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Length: 19
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvec:2005051
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  1. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003. "Utilitarianism for Infinite Utility Streams: A New Welfare Criterion and Its Axiomatic Characterization," Working Papers 03-05, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  2. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Equity, Arrow's Conditions, and Rawls' Difference Principle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 793-804, July.
  3. d'Aspremont, Claude & Gevers, Louis, 2002. "Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 459-541 Elsevier.
  4. MONGIN, Philippe & d'ASPREMONT, Claude, . "Utility theory and ethics," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1423, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. d'Aspremont, Claude & Gevers, Louis, 1977. "Equity and the Informational Basis of Collective Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 199-209, June.
  6. WEYMARK, John A., . "Generalized Gini inequality indices," CORE Discussion Papers RP -453, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with Inter-generational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Working Papers 03-03, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  8. M. Fleurbaey & P. Michel, 1997. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," THEMA Working Papers 97-11, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  9. Lauwers, Luc, 1998. "Intertemporal objective functions: Strong pareto versus anonymity," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 37-55, January.
  10. Amrita Dhillon, 1998. "Extended Pareto rules and relative utilitarianism," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 521-542.
  11. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
  12. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  13. Svensson, Lars-Gunnar, 1980. "Equity among Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1251-56, July.
  14. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. "Utilitarianism and the theory of justice," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 543-596 Elsevier.
  15. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Equity in Two Person Situations: Some Consequences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1127-35, September.
  16. Geir Asheim & Bertil Tungodden, 2004. "Resolving distributional conflicts between generations," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 221-230, 07.
  17. Lauwers, Luc & Van Liedekerke, Luc, 1995. "Ultraproducts and aggregation," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 217-237.
  18. BOSSERT, Walter & SPRUMONT, Yves & SUZUMURA, Kotaro, 2004. "The Possibility of Ordering Infinite Utility Streams," Cahiers de recherche 12-2004, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  19. Gerard Debreu, 1959. "Topological Methods in Cardinal Utility Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 76, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  20. Gevers, Louis, 1979. "On Interpersonal Comparability and Social Welfare Orderings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 75-89, January.
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