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Trade-offs between justices, economics, and efficiency

  • Stefan Baumgaertner

    ()

    (Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany)

  • Stefanie Glotzbach

    (Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany)

  • Nikolai Hoberg

    (Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany)

  • Martin F. Quaas

    (Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Germany)

  • Klara Stumpf

    (Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany)

We argue that economics – as the scientific method of analyzing trade-offs – can be helpful (and may even be indispensable) for assessing the trade-off between intergenerational and intragenerational justice. Economic analysis can delineate the “opportunity set” of politics with respect to the two normative objectives of inter- and intragenerational justice, i.e. it can describe which outcomes are feasible in achieving the two objectives in a given context, and which are not. It can distinguish efficient from inefficient uses of instruments of justice. It can identify the “opportunity cost” of attaining one justice to a higher degree, in terms of less achievement of the other. We find that, under very general conditions, (1) efficiency in the use of instruments of justice implies that there is rivalry between the two justices and the opportunity cost of either justice is positive; (2) negative opportunity costs of achieving one justice exist if there is facilitation between the two justices, which can only happen if instruments of justice are used inefficiently; (3) in outcomes of inefficient uses of instruments of justice in the interior of the opportunity set, the two justices are independent of each other and the opportunity cost of either justice is zero.

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Paper provided by University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics with number 218.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lue:wpaper:218
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://leuphana.de/institute/ivwl.html

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  1. Louis Putterman & John E. Roemer & Joaquim Silvestre, 1998. "Does Egalitarianism Have a Future?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 861-902, June.
  2. Stefan Baumgärtner & Martin F. Quaas, 2009. "What is sustainability economics?," Working Paper Series in Economics 138, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
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