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Do Irrelevant Commodities Matter?

  • Marc Fleurbaey
  • Koichi Tadenuma

We study how to evaluate allocations independently of individual preferences over unavailable commodities. We prove impossibility results that suggest that such evaluations encounter serious difficulties. This is related to the well known problem of performing international comparisons of standard of living across countries with different consumption goods. We show how possibility results can be retrieved with restrictions on the domain of preferences, on the application of the independence axiom, or on the set of allocations to be ranked. Such restrictions appear more plausible when the objects of evaluation are allocations of composite commodities, characteristics, or human functionings rather than ordinary commodities. Copyright The Econometric Society 2007.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1468-0262.2007.00784.x
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Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 75 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (07)
Pages: 1143-1174

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:75:y:2007:i:4:p:1143-1174
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  1. Elisha A. Pazner & David Schmeidler, 1975. "Egalitarian Equivalent Allocations: A New Concept of Economic Equity," Discussion Papers 174, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Mayston, David J., 1982. "The generation of a social welfare function under ordinal preferences," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 109-129, September.
  3. Michel Le Breton & John A. Weymark, 2002. "Arrovian Social Choice Theory on Economic Domains," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0206, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Sep 2003.
  4. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328.
  5. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2002. "Arrovian Aggregation in Economic Environments: How Much Should We Know About Indifference Surfaces?," Discussion Papers 2002-10, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  6. Marc Fleurbaey & Kotaro Suzumura & Koichi Tadenuma, 2005. "The informational basis of the theory of fair allocation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 311-341, 04.
  7. John Bone, 2003. "Simple Arrow-type propositions in the Edgeworth domain," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 41-48.
  8. Redekop, James, 1991. "Social welfare functions on restricted economic domains," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 396-427, April.
  9. Marc Fleurbaey, 2001. "The Pazner-Schmeidler Social Ordering: A Defense," Working Papers 328, Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics.
  10. LeBreton, M., 1994. "Arrovian Social Choice on Economic Domains," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 94a37, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  11. Bordes, Georges & Breton, Michel Le, 1989. "Arrovian theorems with private alternatives domains and selfish individuals," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 257-281, April.
  12. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2000. "Fair Social Orderings With Unequal Production Skills," THEMA Working Papers 2000-17, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  13. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1988. "Social choice in economic environments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 291-308, December.
  14. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Fair social orderings," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1995, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  15. Border, Kim C., 1983. "Social welfare functions for economic environments with and without the pareto principle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 205-216, April.
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