Intertemporal Social Evaluation
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofCahier de recherche ; no. 2005-06.
Publisher(s)Université de Montréal. Département de sciences économiques.
- Intergenerational Equity and Justice
- Intertemporal Social Choice
- Welfarist and Non-Welfarist Social Evaluation
- [JEL:D63] Microeconomics - Welfare Economics - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- [JEL:D63] Microéconomie - Économie du bien-être - Egalité, justice, inégalité et autres critères normatifs et mesures
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.