Accounting for future generations: Intergenerational equity in Australia

Bessant, J, Emslie, M and Watts, R 2011, 'Accounting for future generations: Intergenerational equity in Australia', Australian Journal of Public Adminstration, vol. 70, no. 2, pp. 143-155.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title Accounting for future generations: Intergenerational equity in Australia
Author(s) Bessant, J
Emslie, M
Watts, R
Year 2011
Journal name Australian Journal of Public Adminstration
Volume number 70
Issue number 2
Start page 143
End page 155
Total pages 13
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Abstract Australian governments have published three intergenerational reports since 2002. In line with a general international trend these reports pointed to a problem said to arise from an ageing population which exposes Australia to the risk of a future major fiscal crisis. In this article we argue that by failing to use a generational accounting framework, the reports privilege the elderly at the expense of young people. Added to this, they fail to engage any discussion of intergenerational equity defined as distributive fairness and justice. In this article we explore the value of various approaches to intergenerational justice, focusing on the Principle of Intergenerational Neutrality derived from Rawls' theory of justice. We argue that this does not work as well from a policy point of view as Sen's freedom-as-capabilities approach. We conclude that linking Sen's approach to justice to a generational accounting will enable governments to address future issues of equity.
Subject Human Rights and Justice Issues
Social Theory
Ethical Theory
Keyword(s) intergenerational equity
age
youth
generational accounting
justice
fiscal accountability
policy
DOI - identifier 10.1111/j.1467-8500.2011.00723.x
Copyright notice © 2011 The Authors © 2011 Authors and National Council of the Institute of Public Administration Australia
ISSN 0313-6647
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