A MIXED BENTHAM-RAWLS CRITERION FOR INTERGENERATIONAL EQUITY: THEORY AND IMPLICATIONS
Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado () and
Departmental Working Papers from McGill University, Department of Economics
Ranking development programs using integrals of discounted utilities can yield drastic consequences that offend our sense of justice. New alternative social welfare criteria should be considered. A reaction to discounted utilitarianism is to moderate its effects by adding to the social welfare function a second term that takes seriously the welfare of the generations that live in the far distant future. Chichilnisky proposes a social welfare function that has two desirable properties: (i) non-dictatorship of the present, and (ii) non-dictatorship of the future. However, in many economic models, there exists no optimal path under the Chichilnisky criterion. We introduce a third desideratum: "non-dictatorship of the least advantaged," and propose a new welfare criterion that is morally compelling. It is a weighted average of two terms: (a) the sum of discounted utilities, and (b) the utility level of the least advantaged generation. We derive necessary conditions to characterize growth paths that satisfy our criterion, and show that in some models with familiar dynamic specifications, an optimal path exists and displays appealing characteristics.
JEL-codes: D63 H43 O21 Q20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 43 pages
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-upt
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Journal Article: A mixed Bentham-Rawls criterion for intergenerational equity: Theory and implications (2009)
Working Paper: A Mixed Bentham-Rawls Criterion for Intergenerational Equity: Theory and Implications (2007)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:mcl:mclwop:2007-03
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