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Risk Equity: A New Proposal


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  • Adler, Matthew D.
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    This Article proposes a rigorous framework for analyzing the distributive impacts of risk regulation policies. This framework, which I term "probabilistic population profile analysis (PPPA)," is novel, yet firmly grounded in the social-welfare-function tradition in welfare economics. The PPPA framework conceptualizes the status quo and each possible policy as probability distributions across population profiles -- where each population profile is, in turn, a concatenation of lifetime health-longevity-income histories, one for each member of the population. A utility function transforms each such profile into a utility vector. An equity-regarding social welfare function is then specified. Policy analysts can employ the equity-regarding social welfare function both: (1) to determine how policies compare purely as a matter of equality; and (2) to determine how they compare all-things-considered, considering both equality and overall welfare. Part I of the Article criticizes existing approaches to risk equity that have been proposed in the scholarly literature: the environmental justice conception of risk equity; "individual risk" approaches; QALY-based equity analysis; incidence analysis; inclusive equality measurement; and cost-benefit analysis with distributive weights. Part II describes and defends PPPA. PPPA has many virtues. It recognizes that well-being is multidimensional, a function of both income and health/longevity; furnishes a metric for inequality; provides a basis for making tradeoffs between equality and overall well-being; and understands that distributive justice includes (but is not limited to) inequalities between high and low-status social groups.

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    Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 242.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:242

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