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The limit of discounted utilitarianism

  • Jonsson, Adam


    (Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics)

  • Voorneveld, Mark


    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

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    This paper presents an infinite-horizon version of intergenerational utilitarianism. By studying discounted utilitarianism as the discount factor tends to one, we obtain a welfare criterion --- limit-discounted utilitarianism (LDU) --- that is analytically tractable, respects the Pareto order, and satisfies the equal treatment of generations. In particular, we show that LDU provides (i) a link between preferences over infinite-horizon streams and large, finite-horizon truncations, and (ii) a new perspective on time-preference in the context of postponements of infinite streams. An axiomatic foundation for limit-discounted utilitarianism is presented.

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    Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 748.

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    Length: 19 pages
    Date of creation: 17 Mar 2014
    Date of revision: 24 Apr 2014
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0748
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    1. Brock, William A, 1970. "An Axiomatic Basis for the Ramsey- Weizsacker Overtaking Criterion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(6), pages 927-29, November.
    2. Asheim, Geir B. & Buchholz, Wolfgang & Tungodden, Bertil, 2001. "Justifying Sustainability," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 252-268, May.
    3. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MICHEL, Philippe, 1997. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," CORE Discussion Papers 1997004, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    4. Geir B, ASHEIM & Claude, D’ASPREMONT & Kuntal, BANERJEE, 2008. "Generalized time-invariant overtaking," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2008044, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
    5. Dutta, Prajit K., 1991. "What do discounted optima converge to?: A theory of discount rate asymptotics in economic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 64-94, October.
    6. Sakai, Toyotaka, 2008. "Intergenerational equity and an explicit construction of welfare criteria," PIE/CIS Discussion Paper 395, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    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. Dutta, P.K., 1991. "What Do Discounted Optima Converge To? A Theory of Discount Rate Asymptotics in Economic Models," RCER Working Papers 264, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    9. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2007. "Utilitarianism for infinite utility streams: A new welfare criterion and its axiomatic characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 350-373, March.
    10. Banerjee, Kuntal & Dubey, Ram, 2011. "Impatience for Weakly Paretian Orders: Existence and Genericity," Working Papers 2011-03, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
    11. Kamaga, Kohei & Kojima, Takashi, 2008. "On the leximin and utilitarian overtaking criteria with extended anonymity," PIE/CIS Discussion Paper 392, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    12. Svensson, Lars-Gunnar, 1980. "Equity among Generations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1251-56, July.
    13. Geir B. Asheim & Kuntal Banerjee, 2010. "Fixed-step anonymous overtaking and catching-up," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 6(1), pages 149-165.
    14. Lauwers, Luc, 2010. "Ordering infinite utility streams comes at the cost of a non-Ramsey set," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 32-37, January.
    15. Banerjee, Kuntal & Dubey, Ram Sewak, 2013. "Impatience implication of weakly Paretian orders: Existence and genericity," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 134-140.
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