Intergenerational equity
Intergenerational equity in economic, psychological, and sociological contexts, is the concept or idea of fairness or justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 in relationships between children, youth
Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood . Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual's actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.-Usage:Around the world, the terms "youth",...

, adults and seniors
Old age
Old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle...

, particularly in terms of treatment and interactions. It has been studied in environmental and sociological settings. In the context of institutional investment management
Investment management
Investment management is the professional management of various securities and assets in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of the investors...

, intergenerational equity is the principle that an endowed institution's spending rate must not exceed its after-inflation rate of compound return, so that investment gains are spent equally on current and future constituents of the endowed assets. This concept was originally set out in 1974 by economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 James Tobin
James Tobin
James Tobin was an American economist who, in his lifetime, served on the Council of Economic Advisors and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and taught at Harvard and Yale Universities. He developed the ideas of Keynesian economics, and advocated government intervention to...

, who wrote that, "The trustees of endowed institutions are the guardians of the future against the claims of the present. Their task in managing the endowment is to preserve equity among generations."
in terms of an economical context. Intergenerational equity refers to relationship that a particular family has on resources. An example is the forest-dwelling civilians in Papua New Guinea, who for generations have lived in a certain part of the forest and thus becomes their land. The adult population sell the trees for palm oil to make money. If they do so at an unsustainable level there will be no resources for their children or grandchildren in the future. The unsustainable use of resources would then lead to Intergenerational inequity.


Conversations about intergenerational equity occur across several fields. They include transition economics, social policy
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

, and government budget-making
Government budget
A government budget is a legal document that is often passed by the legislature, and approved by the chief executive-or president. For example, only certain types of revenue may be imposed and collected...

. Intergenerational equity is also explored in environmental
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

 concerns, including sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

, global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 and climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...


Conversations about intergenerational equity are also relevant to social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 arenas as well, where issues such as health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

 are equal in importance to youth rights
Youth rights
Youth rights refers to a set of philosophies intended to enhance civil rights for young people. They are a response to the oppression of young people, with advocates challenging ephebiphobia, adultism and ageism through youth participation, youth/adult partnerships, and promoting, ultimately,...

 and youth voice
Youth voice
Youth voice refers to the distinct ideas, opinions, attitudes, knowledge, and actions of young people as a collective body. The term youth voice often groups together a diversity of perspectives and experiences, regardless of backgrounds, identities, and cultural differences...

 are pressing and urgent. There is a strong interest within the legal community towards the application of intergenerational equity in law.

See also

  • Adultism
    Adultism has been defined as "the power adults have over children". More narrowly, 'adultism is prejudice and accompanying systematic discrimination against young people'...

  • Ageism
    Ageism, also called age discrimination is stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age. It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values used to justify age based prejudice, discrimination, and subordination...

  • Environmental ethics
    Environmental ethics
    Environmental ethics is the part of environmental philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world...

  • Ephebiphobia
    The fear of youth is called ephebiphobia. First coined as the "fear and loathing of teenagers," today the phenomenon is recognized as the "inaccurate, exaggerated and sensational characterization of young people" in a range of settings around the world...

  • Evolving Capacities
    Evolving capacities
    Evolving capacities is the concept in which education, child development and youth development programs led by adults takes into account the capacities of the child or youth to exercise rights on his or her own behalf...

  • Generational accounting
    Generational accounting
    Generational accounting is a relatively new method of national accounting for measuring redistribution of lifetime tax burdens across generations from social insurance, including social security and social health insurance...

  • Gerontocracy
    A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population. Often the political structure is such that political power within the ruling class accumulates with age, so that the oldest hold the most power...

  • Gerontophobia
    Gerontophobia is the fear of growing old, or a hatred or fear of the elderly.-Indicators:Ken Dychtwald identifies seven markers that can make up this phobia in chapter two of Age Wave: How the Most Important Trend of Our Time Will Change Your Future:...

  • Justice (economics)
    Justice (economics)
    Justice in economics is a subcategory of welfare economics with models frequently representing the ethical-social requirements of a given theory. That theory may or may not elicit acceptance...

  • Pedophobia
  • Youth/Adult Partnerships
  • Youth rights
    Youth rights
    Youth rights refers to a set of philosophies intended to enhance civil rights for young people. They are a response to the oppression of young people, with advocates challenging ephebiphobia, adultism and ageism through youth participation, youth/adult partnerships, and promoting, ultimately,...

  • Inter-generational contract

Related literature

  • Bishop, R (1978) "Endangered Species and Uncertainty: The Economics of a Safe Minimum Standard", American Journal of Agricultural Economics
    American Journal of Agricultural Economics
    The American Journal of Agricultural Economics is a peer-reviewed academic journal of agricultural, natural resource, and environmental economics, as well as rural and community development. Published five times per year, it is one of two journals published by the Agricultural & Applied Economics...

    , 60
  • Brown-Weiss, E (1989) In Fairness to Future Generations: International Law, Common Patrimony and Intergenerational Equity. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Transitional Publishers, Inc., for the United Nations University, Tokyo.
  • Daly, H. (1977) Steady State Economics: The Economics of Biophysiscal Equilibrium and Moral Growth. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Co.
  • Frischmann, B. (2005) "Some Thoughts on Shortsightedness and Intergenerational Equity", Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 36.
  • Goldberg, M (1989) On Systemic Balance: Flexibility and Stability In Social, Economic, and Environmental Systems. New York: Praeger.
  • Howarth, R. & Norgaard, R.B. (1990) "Intergenerational Resource Rights, Efficiency, and Social Optimality", Land Economics, 66(1) p1-11.
  • Laslett, P. & Fishkin, J. (1992) Justice Between Age Groups and Generations. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Portney, P. & Weyant, J. P. (1999) Discounting and Intergenerational Equity. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future Press.
  • McLean, D. "Intergenerational Equity" in White, J. (Ed) (1999) Clobal Climate Change: Linking Energy, Environment, Economy, and Equity. Plenum Press.
  • Sikora, R.I. & Barry, B. (1978) Obligations to Future Generations. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
  • Tabellini, G. (1991) "The Politics of Intergenerational Redistribution", Journal of Political Economy, 99(2) p335-358.
  • Wiess-Brown, Margaret. "Chapter 12. Intergenerational equity: a legal framework for global environmental change" in Wiess-Brown, M. (1992) Environmental change and international law: New challenges and dimensions. United Nations University Press.

External links

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