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Avoiding Extinction: Equal Treatment of the Present and the Future

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  • Graciela Chichilnisky

Abstract

Equal treatment for the present and the future was required in two axioms introduced in Chichilnisky [12] [15]. We provide a characterization of the decision criterion that satisfy the axioms and show that the two axioms are equivalent to physical limits in the long run future. We prove that maximizing discounted utility with a long run survival constraint is equivalent to maximizing a criterion that treats equally the present and the future. The equal treatment axioms are therefore the essence of sustainable development. The "weight" Lambda given to the long run future is here identi.ed with the marginal utility of the environmental asset along a path that narrowly misses extinction. An existence theorem is also provided for optimizing according to the welfare criterion that treats equally the present and the future. We show that no prior welfare criteria satisfy the axioms for sustainable development introduced in [12].

Suggested Citation

  • Graciela Chichilnisky, 2009. "Avoiding Extinction: Equal Treatment of the Present and the Future," Working Papers 09-07, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Aug 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:09-07
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    Cited by:

    1. Graciela Chichilnisky & Peter J. Hammond & Nicholas Stern, 2020. "Fundamental utilitarianism and intergenerational equity with extinction discounting," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 54(2), pages 397-427, March.
    2. Graciela Chichilnisky & Peter Eisenberger, 2010. "Asteroids: Assessing Catastrophic Risks," Journal of Probability and Statistics, Hindawi, vol. 2010, pages 1-15, August.
    3. Kitti, Mitri, 2018. "Sustainable social choice under risk," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 19-31.
    4. Norman Schofield, 2015. "Climate Change, Collapse and Social Choice Theory," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 9(1), pages 007-035, October.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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