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Evaluating Intergenerational Risks: Probabillity Adjusted Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism

Author

Listed:
  • Asheim, Geir B.

    () (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

  • Zuber, Stéphane

    () (Paris School of Economics and CNRS)

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). As a response we propose and axiomatize probability adjusted rank-discounted critical-level generalized utilitarianism (PARDCLU), through a key axiom that requires that the social welfare order both be ethical and satisfy first-order stochastic dominance. PARDCLU is useful for evaluating intergenerational risks, is ethical in contrast to discounted utilitarianism, and avoids objections that have been raised against other ethical criteria. PARDCLU is shown to handle 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

  • Asheim, Geir B. & Zuber, Stéphane, 2015. "Evaluating Intergenerational Risks: Probabillity Adjusted Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism," Memorandum 06/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2015_006
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    File URL: http://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2015/memo-06-2015.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social evaluation; population ethics; decision-making under risk; critical-level utilitarianism; social discounting;

    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
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • 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

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