Geir B. Asheim
Annual Reviews of Economics, 2010. 2:197-220
Axiomatic analysis of intergenerational social preferences over infinite streams of well-being faces the following dilemma. Equal treatment of generations combined with sensitivity for the interests of each generation rules out explicitly defined preferences that can rank any pair of infinite well-being streams. Hence, either intergenerational social preferences must be incomplete or equal treatment and sensitivity must be compromised. This critical review of axiomatic analyses of preferences over infinite streams evaluates different kinds of intergenerational social preferences by comparing their axiomatic basis as well as their performance in simple presentfuture conflicts. The scope for application is discussed, using real-world intergenerational conflicts (such as global warming) as a backdrop.