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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. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2005. "Arrovian aggregation in economic environments: how much should we know about indifference surfaces?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 22-44, September.
  2. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2002. "The Informational Basis of the Theory of Fair Allocation," Discussion Paper 122, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2008. "Fair social orderings," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 25-45, January.
  4. Redekop, James, 1991. "Social welfare functions on restricted economic domains," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 396-427, April.
  5. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328.
  6. Pazner, Elisha A & Schmeidler, David, 1978. "Egalitarian Equivalent Allocations: A New Concept of Economic Equity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 671-87, November.
  7. Marc Fleurbaey, 2001. "The Pazner-Schmeidler Social Ordering: A Defense," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 328, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
  8. John Bone, 2003. "Simple Arrow-type propositions in the Edgeworth domain," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 41-48.
  9. 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.
  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. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1988. "Social choice in economic environments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 291-308, December.
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