Document Type


Publication Date



budget deficit, standard of living


This essay considers whether it would be morally acceptable for a nation to use massive intergenerational borrowing to pursue a no-growth policy, under which the anticipated standard of living of members of future generations would be no higher than the standard of living of members of the present generation. The essay examines whether justification for such a policy can be found in either the political theory of John Rawls or in the application of utilitarian principles to intergenerational ethics. It concludes that under a Rawlsian analysis there is a strong argument that the current generation has no obligation to strive for higher standards of living for future generations, but that under utilitarian principles there is such an obligation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Budget deficits, Cost and standard of living