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Lockdowns and Intergenerational Justice

Nehushtan, Yossi



In deciding its response to COVID-19, the UK government has made a policy decision to sacrifice both the short-term and long-term well-being of young people in the UK in order to shortly prolong the life of the elderly. The UK’s policy regarding the pandemic has discriminated against younger generations by imposing blanket regional and national lockdowns and strict social-distancing rules on the entire population, regardless of whether certain age groups were likely to be affected by COVID-19, and while ignoring the completely different impact that the policy had on different age groups’ current and future well-being.

While blanket lockdowns and strict social-distancing rules discriminated against younger generations, isolating only the elderly and vulnerable was both necessary and not discriminatory. Such a policy complies with the moral duties that are imposed by the concept of intergenerational justice and can also be justified behind a Rawlsian “veil of ignorance”. Isolating the elderly and the vulnerable, however, should have been advisory rather than compulsory.

Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2022
Publication Date Nov 30, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2024
Pages 171 - 194
Book Title Pandemic Response and the Cost of Lockdowns: Global Debates from Humanities and Social Sciences
ISBN 9781003259336
Publisher URL