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Impartiality, Priority, and Solidarity in the Theory of Justice


  • Juan D Moreno-Ternero
  • John E Roemer


The ethic of priority is a compromise between the extremely compensatory ethic of outcome equality and the needs-blind ethic of resource equality. We propose an axiom of priority and characterize resource-allocation rules that are impartial, prioritarian, and solidaristic. They comprise a class of rules that equalize across individuals some index of outcome and resources. Consequently, we provide an ethical rationalization for the many applications in which such indices have been used (e.g., the human development index, the index of primary goods, etc.). Copyright The Econometric Society 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan D Moreno-Ternero & John E Roemer, 2006. "Impartiality, Priority, and Solidarity in the Theory of Justice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1419-1427, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:74:y:2006:i:5:p:1419-1427

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Youngsub Chun, 1999. "Equivalence of Axioms for Bankruptcy Problems," Working Paper Series no1, Institute of Economic Research, Seoul National University.
    2. John E. Roemer, 1986. "Equality of Resources Implies Equality of Welfare," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 751-784.
    3. Moulin, Herve, 2002. "Axiomatic cost and surplus sharing," 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 6, pages 289-357 Elsevier.
    4. Hervé Moulin, 1987. "The Pure Compensation Problem: Egalitarianism Versus Laissez-Fairism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 769-783.
    5. Thomson, William, 2003. "Axiomatic and game-theoretic analysis of bankruptcy and taxation problems: a survey," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 249-297, July.
    6. Ehlers, Lars & Klaus, Bettina, 2001. " Solidarity and Probabilistic Target Rules," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 3(2), pages 167-184.
    7. Youngsub Chun, 1999. "Equivalence of axioms for bankruptcy problems," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 28(4), pages 511-520.
    8. Thomson, William, 1983. "Problems of fair division and the Egalitarian solution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 211-226, December.
    9. Keiding, Hans & Moulin, Herve, 1991. "The solidarity axiom in parametric surplus-sharing problems," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 249-270.
    10. Thomson, W., 1996. "Consistent Allocation Rules," RCER Working Papers 418, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    11. Marc Fleurbaey & Francois Maniquet, 1999. "Cooperative production with unequal skills: The solidarity approach to compensation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 16(4), pages 569-583.
    12. Sprumont, Yves, 1996. "Axiomatizing Ordinal Welfare Egalitarianism When Preferences May Vary," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 77-110, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations


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