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Social Welfare Functions

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  • John A Weymark

    ()
    (Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

This article provides an introduction to the use of social welfare functions for the comparative evaluation of social alternatives. Three main approaches are considered: Bergson–Samuelson social welfare functions, Arrovian social welfare functions, and Sen's social welfare functionals. How the measurability and comparability of utility can be modelled and how limitations on the types of utility comparisons that are possible restricts the kinds of social welfare functions that can be considered is also discussed. Extensive social choice theory is used to deal with heterogeneous opinions about how to make utility comparisons.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number vuecon-sub-13-00018.

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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:vuecon-sub-13-00018

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Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

Related research

Keywords: Arrovian social welfare function; Bergson–Samuelson social welfare function; social welfare functional; welfare economics;

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References

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  1. Charles BLACKORBY & David DONALDSON & John A. WEYMARK, 1990. "A Welfarist Proof of Arrow's Theorem," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1990031, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  2. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
  3. Luc Lauwers, 2012. "Intergenerational equity, efficiency, and constructibility," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 227-242, February.
  4. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2002. "The Informational Basis of the Theory of Fair Allocation," Discussion Papers 2002-11, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  5. Marc Fleurbaey & Philippe Mongin, 2005. "The news of the death of welfare economics is greatly exaggerated," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 381-418, December.
  6. Sen, Amartya, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 152-57, Jan.-Feb..
  7. 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.
  8. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
  9. John a. Weymark, 2004. "Measurement Theory and the Foundations of Utilitarianism," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 415, Econometric Society.
  10. Blackorby,Charles & Bossert,Walter & Donaldson,David J., 2005. "Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521825511, October.
  11. d'Aspremont, Claude & Gevers, Louis, 2002. "Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 459-541 Elsevier.
  12. Roberts, Kevin W S, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 421-39, January.
  13. Mandler, Michael, 1999. "Dilemmas in Economic Theory: Persisting Foundational Problems in Microeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195100877.
  14. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  15. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Deschamps, Robert & Gevers, Louis, 1978. "Leximin and utilitarian rules: A joint characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 143-163, April.
  17. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  18. John A. Weymark & Anna B. Khmelnitskaya, 2000. "Social choice with independent subgroup utility scales," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 739-748.
  19. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Equity in Two Person Situations: Some Consequences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1127-35, September.
  20. Broome, John, 2004. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199243761.
  21. Erwin Ooghe & Luc Lauwers, 2005. "Non-dictatorial extensive social choice," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 721-743, 04.
  22. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
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