Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Rights for Future Generations

LPP Working Paper No. 6-2022

Tobia (ed.), Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence 2023, Forthcoming

61 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2022 Last revised: 6 Sep 2023

See all articles by Eric Martínez

Eric Martínez

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Christoph Winter

Harvard University; Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México; Legal Priorities Project

Date Written: October 31, 2022


The last several years have featured the development of theories associated with the view that law should be concerned with ensuring the long-term future goes well. Although recent literature has shown that the principles underlying these theories are widely endorsed across the anglosphere, it remains an open question whether these principles are endorsed across cultures. Here we surveyed laypeople (n=2,938) from 10 countries–Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States–regarding law’s role in protecting future generations. We find participants in our sample widely endorse (a) increasing legal protection for future humans beyond current levels; (b) extending personhood and standing to some subset of humans living in the near and far future; and (c) prioritizing the interests of future people over those of present people in some national and international lawmaking scenarios. Taken together, these results suggest the notion of granting rights and legal protection to future generations is endorsed cross-culturally, carrying wide-ranging implications for legal theory, doctrine, and policy.

Keywords: future generations, personhood, standing, cross-cultural, experimental jurisprudence, longtermism, legal longtermism

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Martínez, Eric and Winter, Christoph, Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Rights for Future Generations (October 31, 2022). LPP Working Paper No. 6-2022, Tobia (ed.), Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence 2023, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Eric Martínez (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

Christoph Winter

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States


Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México ( email )

Río Hondo 1
Mexico City, D.F. 01000, Federal District 01080

Legal Priorities Project ( email )

1427 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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