A Soul's View of the Optimal Population Problem
35 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 1, 2021
To make progress, we consider the population problem in an environment where population is variable, but there is a fixed supply of souls, who may experience multiple incarnations over time. Rather than pondering the value of nonexistence, from the souls' perspective comparing larger or smaller populations merely involves valuing shorter or longer waits until the next incarnation. We argue that such comparisons are possible on the basis of introspection and lead to intuitive welfare criteria with attractive properties. We emphasize that one does not have to believe in reincarnation to accept the resulting criteria; rather, reincarnation serves as a metaphor to facilitate the necessary utility comparisons.
JEL Classification: D63, H43, J11, Q56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation