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Comparing degrees of inequality aversion

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  • Kristof Bosmans

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Abstract

We propose a straightforward dominance procedure for comparing social welfare orderings (SWOs) with respect to the degree of inequality aversion they express. Three versions of the procedure are considered, each of which uses a different underlying criterion of inequality comparisons: (i) a concept based on the Lorenz quasi-ordering, which we argue to be the ideal version, (ii) a concept based on a minimalist criterion of inequality, and (iii) a concept based on the relative differentials quasi-ordering. It turns out that the traditional Arrow-Pratt approach is equivalent to the latter two concepts for important classes of SWOs, but that it is profoundly inconsistent with the Lorenz-based concept. With respect to the problem of combining extreme inequality aversion and monotonicity, concepts (ii) and (iii) identify as extremely inequality averse a class of SWOs that includes leximin as a special case, whereas the Lorenz-based concept (i) concludes that extreme inequality aversion and monotonicity are incompatible.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics in its series Public Economics Working Paper Series with number ineqav.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2006
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Publication status: Forthcoming in Social Choice and Welfare.
Handle: RePEc:wpe:papers:ineqav

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Keywords: Inequality aversion; Lorenz; Leximin; Maximin; Risk aversion;

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References

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  1. Tungodden, B., 1999. "Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?," Papers 4/99, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
  2. Alain Chateauneuf & Patrick Moyes, 2005. "Lorenz non-consistent welfare and inequality measurement," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 61-87, January.
  3. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Kristof Bosmans, 2007. "Extreme inequality aversion without separability," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 589-594, September.
  2. Yoram Amiel & Frank A Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2007. "Distributional Orderings: An Approach with Seven Flavours," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 93, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  3. BOMMIER, Antoine & ZUBER, Stéphane, 2009. "The Pareto principle of optimal inequality," CORE Discussion Papers 2009009, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Bosmans Kristof, 2012. "Distribution-sensitivity of rank-dependent poverty measures," Research Memorandum 034, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  5. Antoine Bommier & Francois Le Grand, . "A Robust Approach to Risk Aversion," Working Papers ETH-RC-13-002, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
  6. Bart Capéau, 2013. "Size and distribution trade-offs for the leximin ordering," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 237-248, June.

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