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Egalitarianism under population change: Age structure does matter

Abstract : We study the compatibility of the optimal population size concepts produced by different social welfare functions and egalitarianism meant as "equal consumption for all individuals of all generations". Social welfare functions are parameterized by an altruism parameter generating the Benthamite and Millian criteria as polar cases. The economy considered is in continuous time and is populated by homogeneous cohorts with a given life span. Production functions are linear in labor, (costly) procreation is the unique way to transfer resources forward in time. First, we show that egalitarianism is optimal whatever the degree of altruism in "perpetual youth" model, that is when lifetime span is finite but age structure does not matter: in this case egalitarianism does not discriminate between the social welfare functions considered. Then we show that, when life span is finite but age structure matters, egalitarianism does not arise systematically as an optimal outcome. In particular, in a growing economy, that is when population growth is optimal in the long-run, this egalitarian rule can only hold when the welfare function is Benthamite. When altruism is impure, egalitarianism is impossible in the context of a growing economy. Either in the Benthamite or impure altruism cases, procreation is never optimal for small enough life spans, leading to finite time extinction and maximal consumption for all existing individuals.
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Contributor : Elisabeth Lhuillier <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 6:24:09 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 3:16:13 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-01463923, version 1

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Raouf Boucekkine, Giorgio Fabbri, Fausto Gozzi. Egalitarianism under population change: Age structure does matter. Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, 2014, 55 (C), pp.86--100. ⟨hal-01463923⟩

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