Equity Between Overlapping Generations


  • John Quiggin, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia (j.quiggin@uq.edu.au).

  • I thank Robert G. Chambers, Simon Grant, Flavio Menezes, Ulrich Schmidt, and Nancy Wallace, along with the participants in the Copenhagen Conference on Risk and Time Preferences for helpful comments and criticism.


This note is a demonstration that, in the presence of overlapping generations and under standard conditions for a social welfare ordering (Pareto optimality, transitivity, and independence), the only ordering consistent with utilitarianism for all people currently alive at any given point in time is one based on weighting all people equally, regardless of their date of birth. In particular, this implies that, under reasonable conditions, the pure rate of social time preference is zero.