Some Remarks on the Ranking of Infinite Utility Streams
A long tradition in welfare economics and moral philosophy, dating back at least to Sidgwick(1907) is the idea that all generations must be treated alike. Perhaps, the most forceful assertion of this idea comes from Ramsey (1928) who declared that any argument for preferring one generation over another must come “merely from the weakness of the imagination”. The “equal treatment of all generations” or the intergenerational equity principle has been formalised in the subsequent literature as the axiom of Anonymity, which requires that two infinite utility streams be judged indifferent to one another if one can be obtained from the other through a permutation of utilities of a finite number of generations. Since it also seems “natural” to require that any social evaluation of infinite utility streams respond positively to an increase in the utility of any generation, the Pareto Axiom is also desirable. Unfortunately, Diamond(1965) showed that there is no social welfare function satisfying these axioms along with a continuity axiom. In a more recent paper, Basu and Mitra( 2003) prove a more general result by showing that the continuity axiom is superfluous
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- Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003.
"Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with Inter-generational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian,"
03-03, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
- Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2003. "Aggregating Infinite Utility Streams with InterGenerational Equity: The Impossibility of Being Paretian," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1557-1563, 09.
- Asheim,G.B. & Buchholz,W. & Tungodden,B., 1999.
08/1999, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
- Fleurbaey, Marc & Michel, Philippe, 2003.
"Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion,"
Journal of Mathematical Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 777-802, September.
- M. Fleurbaey & P. Michel, 1997. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," THEMA Working Papers 97-11, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
- FLEURBAEY, Marc & MICHEL, Philippe, 1997. "Intertemporal equity and the extension of the Ramsey criterion," CORE Discussion Papers 1997004, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Banerjee, Kuntal & Mitra, Tapan, 2007. "On the impatience implications of Paretian social welfare functions," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3-4), pages 236-248, April.
- Geir Asheim & Bertil Tungodden, 2004. "Resolving distributional conflicts between generations," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 24(1), pages 221-230, 07.
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