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Twofold optimality of the relative utilitarian bargaining solution

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  • Marcus Pivato

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Abstract

Given a bargaining problem, the `relative utilitarian' (RU) solution maximizes the sum total of the bargainer's utilities, after having first renormalized each utility function to range from zero to one. We show that RU is `optimal' in two very different senses. First, RU is the maximal element (over the set of all bargaining solutions) under any partial ordering which satisfies certain axioms of fairness and consistency; this result is closely analogous to the result of Segal (2000). Second, RU offers each person the maximum expected utility amongst all rescaling-invariant solutions, when it is applied to a random sequence of future bargaining problems which are generated using a certain class of distributions; this is somewhat reminiscent of the results of Harsanyi (1953) and Karni (1998).

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 32 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 79-92

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:32:y:2009:i:1:p:79-92

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  1. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  2. Kalai, Ehud, 1977. "Proportional Solutions to Bargaining Situations: Interpersonal Utility Comparisons," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1623-30, October.
  3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  4. Edi Karni, 1998. "Impartiality: Definition and Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1405-1416, November.
  5. Amrita Dhillon & Jean-Francois Mertens, 1999. "Relative Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 471-498, May.
  6. Kalai, Ehud & Smorodinsky, Meir, 1975. "Other Solutions to Nash's Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 513-18, May.
  7. Uzi Segal, 2000. "Let's Agree That All Dictatorships Are Equally Bad," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 569-589, June.
  8. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1975. "Bentham or Bergson? Finite Sensibility, Utility Functions and Social Welfare Functions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 545-69, October.
  9. Edi Karni & John A. Weymark, 1998. "An informationally parsimonious impartial observer theorem," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 321-332.
  10. Muthoo,Abhinay, 1999. "Bargaining Theory with Applications," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521576475.
  11. Sobel, Joel, 2001. "Manipulation of Preferences and Relative Utilitarianism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 196-215, October.
  12. Amrita Dhillon, 1998. "Extended Pareto rules and relative utilitarianism," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 521-542.
  13. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  14. Maskin, Eric, 1978. "A Theorem on Utilitarianism," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 93-96, February.
  15. Edi Karni, 2003. "Impartiality and interpersonal comparisons of variations in well-being," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 95-111, 08.
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