Social choice with approximate interpersonal comparison of welfare gains
AbstractSuppose it is possible to make approximate interpersonal comparisons of welfare gains and losses. Thus, if w, x, y, and z are personal psychophysical states (each encoding all ethically relevant information about the physical and mental state of a person), then it sometimes possible to say, ``The welfare gain of the state change w --> x is greater than the welfare gain of the state change y --> z.'' We can represent this by the formula ``(w --> x)> (y --> z)'', where `>' is a `difference preorder': an incomplete preorder on the space of all possible personal state changes. A `social state change' is a bundle of personal state changes. A `social difference preorder' (SDP) is an incomplete preorder on the space of social state changes, which satisfies Pareto and Anonymity axioms. The `minimal' SDP is the natural extension of the Suppes-Sen preorder to this setting; we show that it is a subrelation of every other SDP. The `approximate utilitarian' SDP ranks social state changes by comparing the sum total utility gain they induce, with respect to all `utility functions' compatible with `>'. The `net gain' preorder ranks social state changes by comparing the aggregate welfare gain they induce upon various subpopulations. We show that, under certain conditions, all three of these preorders coincide.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 32252.
Date of creation: 14 Jul 2011
Date of revision:
utilitarian; interpersonal comparisons; difference order; cardinal utility; linearly ordered abelian group;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
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