Utilitarianism and unequal longevities: A remedy?

Abstract : In the context of unequal deterministic longevities, classical utilitarianism exhibits, under time-additive individual preferences, a counterintuitive tendency to redistribute resources from short-lived agents towards long-lived agents, against any intuition for compensation. We examine the robustness of that result to the introduction of risky lifetime, and to a broader class of individual preferences. It is shown that classical utilitarianism remains unable to provide, in that broader framework, a general redistribution towards the short-lived. Then, we propose a remedy, which consists in imputing, when solving the social planner's allocation problem, the consumption equivalent of a long life to the consumption of long-lived agents. This compensation-constrained utilitarianism is shown to reduce welfare inequalities across agents with unequal lifetimes.
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https://hal-pjse.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00813226
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Submitted on : Monday, April 15, 2013 - 11:52:10 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - 5:20:14 PM

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Marie-Louise Leroux, Grégory Ponthière. Utilitarianism and unequal longevities: A remedy?. Economic Modelling, Elsevier, 2013, 30, pp.888-999. ⟨10.1016/j.econmod.2012.10.006⟩. ⟨hal-00813226⟩

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