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Combining Rights and Welfarism: a new approach to intertemporal evaluation of social alternatives

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  • Ngo van Long

    (McGill University)

  • Vincent Martinet

    (INRA Economie Publique)

Abstract

We propose a new criterion reflecting both the concern for rights and the concern for welfare in the evaluation of economic development paths. The concern for rights is captured by a pre-ordering over combinations of thresholds corresponding to floors or ceilings on various quantitative indicators. The resulting constraints on actions and on levels of state variables are interpreted as minimal rights to be guaranteed to all generations, for intergenerational equity purposes. The level of these rights are endogenously chosen, accounting for the « cost in terms of welfare'' of granting them. Such a criterion could embody the idea of sustainable development. We provide an axiomatization of such a criterion and characterize the tension between rights and welfare in a general economic framework. We apply the criterion to the standard Dasgupta-Heal-Solow model of resource extraction and capital accumulation. We show that if the weight given to rights in the criterion is sufficiently high, the optimal solution is on the threshold possibility frontier. The development path is then « driven'' by the rights. In particular, if a minimal consumption is considered as a right, constant consumption can be optimal even with a positive utility discount rate. In this case, the shadow value of the right plays an important role in the determination of the rate of discount to be applied to social investment projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Ngo van Long & Vincent Martinet, 2017. "Combining Rights and Welfarism: a new approach to intertemporal evaluation of social alternatives," Working Papers 2017.18, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:fae:wpaper:2017.18
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    Cited by:

    1. Ngo Long & Vincent Martinet, 2018. "Combining rights and welfarism: a new approach to intertemporal evaluation of social alternatives," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 50(1), pages 35-64, January.
    2. Long, Ngo Van, 2019. "Financing higher education in an imperfect world," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 23-31.
    3. Michielsen, T.O., 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes Under Time-inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Paper 2013-013, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Thomas Michielsen, 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes under Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Working Papers 2013.55, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. Van Long, Ngo, 2016. "The Impacts of Other-Regarding Preferences and Ethical Choice on Environmental Outcomes: A Review of the Literature," Strategic Behavior and the Environment, now publishers, vol. 6(1-2), pages 1-35, December.
    6. Walter Bossert & Kohei Kamaga, 2020. "An axiomatization of the mixed utilitarian–maximin social welfare orderings," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 69(2), pages 451-473, March.
    7. Mark Schneider & Byung‐Cheol Kim, 2020. "The utilitarian–maximin social welfare function and anomalies in social choice," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 87(2), pages 629-646, October.
    8. Michielsen, T.O., 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes Under Time-inconsistent Preferences," Other publications TiSEM 921f1ff7-67c9-45bc-968d-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. Grossmann, Volker & Steger, Thomas M. & Trimborn, Timo, 2013. "The macroeconomics of TANSTAAFL," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 76-85.
    10. Hartwick, John M. & Long, Ngo Van, 2018. "Sustainability with endogenous discounting when utility depends on consumption and amenities," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 31-36.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rights; welfare; intergenerational equity; sustainability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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