IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hal/psewpa/halshs-00564865.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Survival, reproduction and congestion: The spaceship problem re-examined

Author

Listed:
  • Pierre-André Jouvet

    (EconomiX - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CORE - Center of Operation Research and Econometrics [Louvain] - UCL - Université Catholique de Louvain)

  • Grégory Ponthière

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

This paper re-examines the spaceship problem, i.e. the design of the optimal population under a fixed living space, by focusing on the dilemma between adding new beings and extending the life of existing beings. For that purpose, we characterize, under time-additive individual welfare depending negatively on population density, the preference ordering of a utilitarian social planner over lifetime-equal histories, i.e. histories with demographic conditions yielding an equal finite number of life-periods (imposed by resources constraints). The analysis of the spaceship problem contradicts widespread beliefs about the populationism of Classical Utilitarianism and the antipopulationism of Average Utilitarianism. We also study the invariance property exhibited by various utilitarian rankings to the total space available and to individual preferences. Finally, we compare histories for a spaceship with a stationary population, and try to accomodate intuitions about posterity and renewal of populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-André Jouvet & Grégory Ponthière, 2010. "Survival, reproduction and congestion: The spaceship problem re-examined," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564865, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00564865
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00564865
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00564865/document
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Blackorby,Charles & Bossert,Walter & Donaldson,David J., 2005. "Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521532587, October.
    2. Victoria Cramer & Svenn Torgersen & Einar Kringlen, 2004. "Quality of Life in a City: The Effect of Population Density," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 103-116, October.
    3. Malthus, Thomas, 2008. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199540457 edited by Gilbert, Geoffrey.
    4. Bykvist, Krister, 2007. "The Good, The Bad, And The Ethically Neutral," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(01), pages 97-105, March.
    5. Antoine Bommier, 2006. "Uncertain Lifetime And Intertemporal Choice: Risk Aversion As A Rationale For Time Discounting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1223-1246, November.
    6. Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1798. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number malthus1798.
    7. Broome, John, 2006. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199297702.
    8. Manuel Gottlieb, 1945. "The Theory of Optimum Population for a Closed Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53, pages 289-289.
    9. Bentham, Jeremy, 1781. "An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number bentham1781.
    10. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1986. "Social criteria for evaluating population change: An alternative to the Blackorby-Donaldson criterion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 375-381, April.
    11. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
    12. Crisp, Roger, 2007. "Neutrality And Pleasure," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(01), pages 81-88, March.
    13. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The spaceship problem
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-03-22 19:22:00

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Gregory Ponthiere, 2016. "Utilitarian population ethics and births timing," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 189-238, April.
    2. Grégory Ponthière, 2015. "Utilitarian population ethics and births timing," Working Papers halshs-01207185, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental congestion; fertility; longevity; population ethics; utilitarianism; renewal; natalité; congestion environnementale; longévité; éthique de la population;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Economic Logic blog

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00564865. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CCSD). General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.