Intergenerational Justice in Aging Societies: A Cross-National Comparison of 29 OECD Countries

64 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2013

Date Written: April 20, 2013


I present the Intergenerational Justice Index (IJI) - a simple four-dimensional indicator developed with the Bertelsmann Stiftung in order to compare intergenerational justice in practice across 29 OECD member states. The unit of analysis is countries, and the IJI is a macro-level snapshot linked primarily to government activity rather than private behavior. Sustainability is the moral starting point: ‘enough and as good’ ought to be left by each generation to the next. Three of the IJI dimensions measure policy outcomes that leave legacy burdens towards younger and future generations: (1) the ecological footprint created by all generations alive today; (2) early-life starting conditions as measured by child poverty levels; and (3) the economic and fiscal burdens on the shoulders of currently young generations as measured by public debt levels per child. The fourth IJI dimension measures policy inputs in the form of a new measure of (4) welfare states’ overall pro-elderly spending bias. These four dimensions are then aggregated into an overall IJI value, using a ‘benefit-of-the-doubt’ weighting method to respect the (revealed) preferences of democratically elected governments. The report also discusses policy options, ranging from the obvious (early childhood investment) to the radical (proxy votes for children).

Keywords: empirical social justice, social policy, demographic change, generational politics, elderly bias, multidimensional indicators, Demeny votes

Suggested Citation

Vanhuysse, Pieter, Intergenerational Justice in Aging Societies: A Cross-National Comparison of 29 OECD Countries (April 20, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Pieter Vanhuysse (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK 5230 Odense

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