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The Ethics of Intergenerational Risk

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  • Piacquadio, Paolo G.

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

Abstract

The paper reexamines the ethics of intergenerational risk. When risk resolves gradually, earlier decisions cannot depend on the realization of later shocks and, consequently, some inequalities across generations are inevitable. To account for these inequalities, risky intergenerational situations are assessed in relation to an endogenous reference. The reference is specific to each intergenerational resource distribution problem and captures information about the technology, the intensity of risk, and the way risk resolves over time. The characterized class of reference-dependent utilitarian criteria avoids serious drawbacks of existing alternatives, such as discounted expected utilitarianism. Specifically, the welfare criteria: (i) disentangle aversion to intergenerational inequality from aversion to risk; (ii) value an early resolution of risk; and (iii) discount the future based on the intensity and the time-resolution of risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Piacquadio, Paolo G., 2015. "The Ethics of Intergenerational Risk," Memorandum 15/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2015_015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Asheim, Geir B. & Zuber, Stéphane, 2016. "Evaluating intergenerational risks," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 104-117.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational justice; risk; social ordering; discounting;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • 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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