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Evaluating intergenerational risks

Author

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  • Stéphane Zuber

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Geir B. Asheim

    (Department of Economics [Oslo] - Faculty of Social Sciences [Oslo] - UiO - University of Oslo)

Abstract

Climate policies have stochastic consequences that involve a great number of generations. This calls for evaluating social risk (what kind of societies will future people be born into) rather than individual risk (what will happen to people during their own lifetimes). We respond to this call by proposing and axiomatizing probability adjusted rank-discounted critical-level generalized utilitarianism (PARDCLU) through a key axiom ensuring that the social welfare order both is ethical and satisfies first-order stochastic dominance. PARDCLU yields a new useful perspective on intergenerational risks, is ethical in contrast to discounted utilitarianism, and avoids objections that have been raised against other ethical criteria. We show that PARDCLU handles situations with positive probability of human extinction and is linked to decision theory by yielding rank-dependent expected utilitarianism—but with additional structure—in a special case.

Suggested Citation

  • Stéphane Zuber & Geir B. Asheim, 2016. "Evaluating intergenerational risks," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-01383120, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseose:halshs-01383120
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmateco.2016.05.005
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01383120
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    Cited by:

    1. de la Croix, David & Doepke, Matthias, 2021. "A soul’s view of the optimal population problem," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 98-108.
    2. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2017. "Fair management of social risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 666-706.
    3. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Stéphane Zuber & Marc Fleurbaey, 2017. "Intergenerational equity under catastrophic climate change," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 17040, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    4. Piacquadio, Paolo G., 2020. "The ethics of intergenerational risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 186(C).
    5. Marcus Pivato, 2020. "Rank-additive population ethics," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 69(4), pages 861-918, June.
    6. Aurélie Méjean & Antonin Pottier & Marc Fleurbaey & Stéphane Zuber, 2020. "Catastrophic climate change, population ethics and intergenerational equity," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 163(2), pages 873-890, November.
    7. Geir B. Asheim, 2017. "Sustainable growth," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 49(3), pages 825-848, December.
    8. Hoberg, Nikolai & Baumgärtner, Stefan, 2017. "Irreversibility and uncertainty cause an intergenerational equity-efficiency trade-off," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 75-86.
    9. Spears, Dean & Zuber, Stéphane, 2021. "Foundations of Utilitarianism under Risk and Variable Population," IZA Discussion Papers 14515, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Kitti, Mitri, 2018. "Sustainable social choice under risk," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 19-31.
    11. Marc Fleurbaey, 2018. "Welfare economics, risk and uncertainty," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 51(1), pages 5-40, February.
    12. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2017. "Fair management of social risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 666-706.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Population ethics; Critical-level utilitarianism; Decision-making under risk; Social discounting; Social evaluation;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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