CFDP 1673R

A Dynamic Analysis of Human Welfare in a Warming Planet


Publication Date: August 2008

Revision Date: April 2009

Pages: 69


Climate science indicates that climate stabilization requires low GHG emissions. Is this consistent with nondecreasing human welfare?

Our welfare index, called quality of life (QuoL), emphasizes education, knowledge, and the environment. We construct and calibrate a multigenerational model with intertemporal links provided by education, physical capital, knowledge and the environment.

We reject discounted utilitarianism and adopt, first, the Intergenerational Maximin criterion, and, second, Human Development Optimization, that maximizes the QuoL of the first generation subject to a given future rate of growth. We apply these criteria to our calibrated model via a novel algorithm inspired by the turnpike property.

The computed paths yield levels of QuoL higher than the year 2000 level for all generations. They require the doubling of the fraction of labor resources devoted to the creation of knowledge relative to the reference level, whereas the fractions of labor allocated to consumption and leisure are similar to the reference ones. On the other hand, higher growth rates require substantial increases in the fraction of labor devoted to education, together with moderate increases in the fractions of labor devoted to knowledge and the investment in physical capital.


Quality of life, Climate change, Education, Maximin, Growth

JEL Classification Codes:  D63, O40, O41, Q50, Q54, Q56