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Longer Life, Higher Welfare?

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  • Michael Grimm
  • Kenneth Harttgen

Abstract

Whereas life expectancy continues to increase in most industrialized countries many developing and transition countries are today confronted with decreases in life expectancy. Usual measures employed to compare welfare over time and space fail to deal with such demographic change and may lead to the so-called 'repugnant' conclusion that lower life expectancy involves higher welfare per capita. We illustrate this type of transmission channel using various welfare criteria and reference populations. We also consider feed-back effects from the demography on the economy using a neo-classical growth model. We show that the 'repugnant' conclusion can be avoided if we choose a lifetime welfare measure instead of a period (or snapshot) welfare measure. All concepts are illustrated empirically using a small sample of developed and developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Grimm & Kenneth Harttgen, 2006. "Longer Life, Higher Welfare?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 556, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp556
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2005. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 277-291, March.
    2. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
    3. Ravi Kanbur & Diganta Mukherjee, 2007. "Premature Mortality And Poverty Measurement," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 339-359, October.
    4. Alwyn Young, 2005. "The Gift of the Dying: The Tragedy of AIDS and the Welfare of Future African Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 423-466.
    5. Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "On the contribution of demographic change to aggregate poverty measures for the developing world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3580, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Boboc, Cristina & Driouchi, Ahmed & Titan, Emilia, 2010. "Interrelations between Education, Health, Income and Economic Development in Europe with Emphasis on New Members of European Union," MPRA Paper 22235, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 19 Apr 2010.
    2. Kenneth Harttgen, 2007. "The Impact of HIV on ChildrenĀ“s Welfare," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 157, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Luciano Fanti & Mimmo Iannelli & Piero Manfredi, 2010. "Endogenous Age Structure in Descriptive Macroeconomic Growth Models: A General Framework and Some Steady State Analysis," Chapters,in: Institutional and Social Dynamics of Growth and Distribution, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life expectancy; Repugnant conclusion; Welfare comparisons;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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