Editorial

Jörg Tremmel, Maria Lenk, Antony Mason, Markus Rutsche
2018
If you had to choose one moment in history in which to be born, and you didn't know in advance whether you were going to be male or female, which country you were going to be from, what your status was, you'd choose right now." This answer to his one-question test was used by Barack Obama in several of his speeches to demonstrate how humanity has made progress up until the present day. Is he right? Beyond asking people what their preferred birth year would be in the context of such a thought
more » ... f such a thought experiment, it is possible to compare the attractiveness of actual birth years (and thus epochs in which to lead one's life) from official statistics. There are already a handful of indices which are, if recorded repeatedly, usable for measuring the changes in quality-of-life circumstances over time, and thus the "position" of succeeding generations in the course of history. Jamie McQuilkin, who is the winner of the 2016/17 Demography Prize, derives an additional index from national statistics in the opening article of this second part of the IGJR double issue on "Measuring Intergenerational Justice for Public Policy". He combines nine indicators: forest degradation rate, share of low-carbon energy consumption, and carbon footprint in the environmental dimension; adjusted net savings, current account balance, and wealth in equality in the economic dimension; and primary pupil-teacher ratio, fertility rate, and GDP-adjusted child mortality in the social dimension. Unlike other index-builders, McQuilkin takes great pains to lay out all the premises, definitions and data sources of his account in as clear a manner as possible, which makes his article an accessible and instructive read. All-encompassing comparisons of the position of a generation in the "lottery of timing" are nonetheless notoriously difficult to draw. The two subsequent articles confine themselves to public policy. They both treat financial transfers between generations; but a deeper look reveals that their underlying rationale is quite different. Bernhard Ham [...]
doi:10.24357/igjr.12.1.638 fatcat:7vcvm4yj3fh3zg7fo4jyf2rzzu