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The limit of discounted utilitarianism

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  • Jonsson, Adam

    () (Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics)

  • Voorneveld, Mark

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

Abstract

This paper presents an infinite-horizon version of intergenerational utilitarianism. By studying discounted utilitarianism as the discount factor tends to one, we obtain a new welfare criterion: limit-discounted utilitarianism (LDU). We show that LDU meets standard assumptions of efficiency, equity, and interpersonal comparability, but allows us to compare more pairs of utility streams than commonly-used utilitarian criteria, including the overtaking criterion and the catching-up criterion. We also introduce a principle of compensation for postponements of utility streams and use it to characterize the LDU criterion on a restricted domain.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonsson, Adam & Voorneveld, Mark, 2014. "The limit of discounted utilitarianism," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 748, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 01 Feb 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0748
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    utilitarianism; intergenerational equity; time preference;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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