Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 747: Utilitarianism for infinite utility streams: summable differences and finite averages

Adam Jonsson () and Mark Voorneveld ()
Additional contact information
Adam Jonsson: Department of Engineering Science and Mathematics, Postal: LuleƄ University of Technology, 97187 LuleƄ, Sweden
Mark Voorneveld: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This paper provides axiomatic descriptions of social welfare relations, defined on infinite streams of utility, that are consistent with the utilitarian criterion on subsets where maximizing aggregate utility has a clear interpretation: the streams, or their differences, are summable. Besides standard assumptions on efficiency, equity and interpersonal comparability, two axioms are introduced and shown to be necessary and sufficient. A more general version of one axiom suffices to distinguish streams with different long-run averages.

Keywords: Intergenerational equity; aggregating infinite utility streams; ethical social welfare relations

JEL-codes: D63; D70; D90

12 pages, First version: March 17, 2014. Revised: April 15, 2014. Earlier revisions: April 15, 2014.

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