In this paper, we study consumption decisions under risk assuming a prioritarian social welfare function, namely a concave transformation of individual utility functions. Under standard assumptions, there is always more current consumption under ex ante prioritarianism than under utilitarianism. Thus, a concern for equity (in the ex ante prioritarian sense) means less concern for the risky future. In contrast, there is usually less current consumption under ex post prioritarianism than under utilitarianism. We discuss the robustness of these results to learning, and to other forms of prioritarian social welfare functions.
Matthew D. Adler & Nicolas Treich, Consumption, Risk and Prioritarianism (October 4, 2014)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Welfare economics, Utilitarianism, Consumption (Economics)