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Fairness versus Welfare: Notes on the Pareto Principle, Preferences, and Distributive Justice

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  • Louis Kaplow
  • Steven Shavell

Abstract

Fairness versus Welfare, we advance the thesis that social policies should be assessed entirely on the basis of their effects on individuals’ well-being. This thesis implies that no independent weight should be accorded to notions of fairness (other than many purely distributive notions). We support our thesis in three ways: by demonstrating how notions of fairness perversely reduce welfare, indeed, sometimes everyone’s well-being; by revealing numerous other deficiencies in the notions, including their lack of sound rationales; and by providing an account of notions of fairness that explains their intuitive appeal in a manner that reinforces the conclusion that they should not be treated as independent principles in policy assessment. In this essay, we discuss these three themes and comment on issues raised by Richard Craswell, Lewis Kornhauser, and Jeremy Waldron.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 32 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 331-362

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:32:y:2003:p:331-362

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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References

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  1. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2001. "Any Non-welfarist Method of Policy Assessment Violates the Pareto Principle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 281-286, April.
  2. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Why the Legal System Is Less Efficient Than the Income Tax in Redistributing Income," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 667-81, June.
  3. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "The Conflict between Notions of Fairness and the Pareto Principle," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1-2), pages 63-77, Fall.
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Cited by:
  1. Jeffrey Wagner & Luiz Freitas, 2007. "Capturing moral economic context," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 4(14), pages 1-10.
  2. Safarzyńska, Karolina, 2013. "Evolutionary-economic policies for sustainable consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 187-195.
  3. Mark White, 2004. "Preaching to the choir: A response to Kaplow and Shavell's Fairness Versus Welfare," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(4), pages 507-515.
  4. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2007:i:14:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Olivier STERCK & Olivia D’AOUST, 2012. "Who Benefits from Customary Justice? Rent-seeking, Bribery and Criminality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2012015, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  6. Antonides, Gerrit & Kroft, Maaike, 2005. "Fairness judgments in household decision making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 902-913, December.

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