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Intertemporal Social Evaluation

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  • BLACKORBY, Charles
  • BOSSERT, Walter
  • DONALDSON, David

Abstract

Intertemporal social-evaluation rules provide us with social criteria that can be used to assess the relative desirability of utility distributions across generations. The trade-offs between the well-being of different generations implicit in each such rule reflect the underlying ethical position on issues of intergenerational equity or justice. We employ an axiomatic approach in order to identify ethically attractive socialevaluation procedures. In particular, we explore the possibilities of using welfare information and non-welfare information in a model of intertemporal social evaluation. We focus on the individuals’ birth dates and lengths of life as the relevant non-welfare information. As usual, welfare information is given by lifetime utilities. It is assumed that this information is available for each alternative to be ranked. Various weakenings of the Pareto principle are employed in order to allow birth dates or lengths of life (or both) to matter in social evaluation. In addition, we impose standard properties such as continuity and anonymity and we examine the consequences of an intertemporal independence property. For each of the Pareto conditions employed, we characterize all social-evaluation rules satisfying it and our other axioms. The resulting rules are birth-date dependent or lifetime-dependent versions of generalized utilitarianism. Furthermore, we discuss the ethical and axiomatic foundations of geometric discounting in the context of our model.

Suggested Citation

  • BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2005. "Intertemporal Social Evaluation," Cahiers de recherche 2005-06, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:2005-06
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1866/535
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 421-439.
    2. Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 2005. "Multi-profile welfarism: A generalization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 24(2), pages 253-267, April.
    3. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1997. "Birth-Date Dependent Population Ethics: Critical-Level Principles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 260-284, December.
    4. W. M. Gorman, 1968. "The Structure of Utility Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(4), pages 367-390.
    5. Marcus Fleming, 1952. "A Cardinal Concept of Welfare," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 366-384.
    6. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-1320, November.
    7. Broome, John, 2006. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199297702.
    8. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2000. "The Value of Limited Altruism," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 37-70, November.
    9. BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 2006-15, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
      • BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 14-2006, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    10. Kelsey, David, 1987. "The Role of Information in Social Welfare Judgements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 301-317, June.
    11. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. "Utilitarianism and the theory of justice," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 543-596, Elsevier.
    12. Eric Maskin, 1978. "A Theorem on Utilitarianism," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(1), pages 93-96.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mohamed Mabrouk, 2005. "Intergenerational anonymity as an alternative to the discounted- sum criterion in the calculus of optimal growth II: Pareto optimality and some economic interpretations," GE, Growth, Math methods 0511007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mohamed Mabrouk, 2005. "Intergenerational anonymity as an alternative to the discounted- sum criterion in the calculus of optimal growth I: Consensual optimality," GE, Growth, Math methods 0510013, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Mabrouk, Mohamed, 2006. "Allais-anonymity as an alternative to the discounted-sum criterion in the calculus of optimal growth I: Consensual optimality," MPRA Paper 10512, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational Equity and Justice; Intertemral Social Choice; Welfarist and Non-Welfarist Social Evaluation.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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