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Multidimensional Welfare Aggregation

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  • Christian List

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Abstract

Most accounts of welfare aggregation in the tradition of Arrow's (1951/1963) and Sen's (1970/1979) social-choice-theoretic frameworks represent the welfare of an individual in terms of a single welfare ordering or a single scalar-valued welfare function. I develop a multidimensional generalization of Arrow's and Sen's frameworks, representing individual welfare in terms of multiple personal welfare functions, corresponding to multiple `dimensions' of welfare. I show that, as in the one-dimensional case, the existence of attractive aggregation procedures depends on certain informational assumptions, specifically about the measurability of welfare and its comparability not only across individuals but also across dimensions. I state several impossibility and possibility results. Under Arrow-type conditions, insufficient comparability across individuals leads to dictatorship of a single individual, while insufficient comparability across dimensions leads to dominance of a single dimension. Given sufficient comparability both across individuals and across dimensions, a range of possibilities emerges. I discuss the substantive implications of the results.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 119 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1_2 (04)
Pages: 119-142

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:119:y:2004:i:1_2:p:119-142

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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Cited by:
  1. Martin Binder, 2009. "Some Considerations Regarding the Problem of Multidimensional Utility," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-099, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.

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