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Combining Rights and Welfarism: A New Approach to Intertemporal Evaluation of Social Alternatives

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  • Ngo Van Long
  • Vincent Martinet

Abstract

We propose a new criterion which reflects both the concern for welfare (utility) and the concern for rights in the evaluation of economic development paths. The concern for rights is captured by a pre-ordering over combinations of thresholds (floors or ceilings on various quantitative indicators) that serve as constraints on actions and on levels of state variables. These thresholds are interpreted as minimal rights to be guaranteed to all generations. They are endogenously chosen within the set of all feasible thresholds, accounting for the "cost in terms of welfare" of achieving these rights. We apply the criterion to several examples, including the standard Dasgupta-Heal-Solow model of resource extraction and capital accumulation. We show that if the weight given to rights in the criterion is sufficiently high, the optimal solution may be on the threshold possibility frontier. The development path is then "driven" by the rights. In particular, if a minimal consumption is considered as a right, constant consumption can be optimal even with a positive utility discount rate. The shadow prices of thresholds play an important role in the determination of the rate of discount to be applied to social investment projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Ngo Van Long & Vincent Martinet, 2012. "Combining Rights and Welfarism: A New Approach to Intertemporal Evaluation of Social Alternatives," Cahiers de recherche 01-2012, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:01-2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grossmann, Volker & Steger, Thomas M. & Trimborn, Timo, 2013. "The macroeconomics of TANSTAAFL," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 76-85.
    2. Van Long, Ngo, 2016. "The Impacts of Other-Regarding Preferences and Ethical Choice on Environmental Outcomes: A Review of the Literature," Strategic Behavior and the Environment, now publishers, vol. 6(1-2), pages 1-35, December.
    3. Michielsen, T.O., 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes Under Time-inconsistent Preferences," Discussion Paper 2013-013, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Thomas Michielsen, 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes under Time-Inconsistent Preferences," Working Papers 2013.55, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rights; Intergenerational Equity; Welfare; Sustainability;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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