IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

A consistent multidimensional Pigou-Dalton transfer principle


  • Bosmans, Kristof
  • Lauwers, Luc
  • Ooghe, Erwin


The unidimensional Pigou-Dalton transfer principle demands that a regressive transfer in income--a transfer from worse-off (poor) to better-off (rich)--decreases social welfare. In a multidimensional setting the direct link between income (or any other attribute) and individual well-being is absent. We interpret the social welfare level of a distribution in which each individual has the same bundle as the individual well-being level. We define regressivity on the basis of this individual well-being ranking. In a setting with both transferable and non-transferable attributes, the imposition of the ensuing "consistent" Pigou-Dalton principle forces individual well-being to have a quasi-linear structure in the transferable attributes. Since we allow for transferable and non-transferable attributes, our result provides a normative underpinning for criteria in the distinct literatures of multidimensional inequality measurement (only transferable attributes) and of needs (one transferable and one non-transferable attribute).

Suggested Citation

  • Bosmans, Kristof & Lauwers, Luc & Ooghe, Erwin, 2009. "A consistent multidimensional Pigou-Dalton transfer principle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1358-1371, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:144:y:2009:i:3:p:1358-1371

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fleurbaey, Marc & Hagnere, Cyrille & Trannoy, Alain, 2003. "Welfare comparisons with bounded equivalence scales," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 309-336, June.
    2. Ebert, Udo, 1997. "Social Welfare When Needs Differ: An Axiomatic Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(254), pages 233-244, May.
    3. Udo Ebert & Patrick Moyes, 2003. "Equivalence Scales Reconsidered," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 319-343, January.
    4. Bourguignon, Francois, 1989. "Family size and social utility : Income distribution dominance criteria," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-80, September.
    5. Anthony Shorrocks, 2004. "Inequality and welfare evaluation of heterogeneous income distributions," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 2(3), pages 193-218, July.
    6. Charles Blackorby & David Donaldson & Maria Auersperg, 1981. "A New Procedure for the Measurement of Inequality within and among Population Subgroups," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 14(4), pages 665-685, November.
    7. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
    8. Shorrocks, Anthony, 2004. "Inequality and Welfare Evaluation of Heterogeneous Income Distributions," WIDER Working Paper Series 001, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Capeau, Bart & Ooghe, Erwin, 2007. "On comparing heterogeneous populations: Is there really a conflict between welfarism and a concern for greater equality in living standards?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-28, January.
    10. Serge-Christophe Kolm, 1977. "Multidimensional Egalitarianisms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-13.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Croci Angelini, Elisabetta & Michelangeli, Alessandra, 2012. "Axiomatic measurement of multidimensional well-being inequality: Some distributional questions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 548-557.
    2. Marcello Basili & Paulo Casaca & Alain Chateauneuf & Maurizio Franzini, 2017. "Multidimensional Pigou–Dalton transfers and social evaluation functions," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 573-590, December.
    3. Rolf Aaberge & Andrea Brandolini, 2014. "Multidimensional poverty and inequality," Discussion Papers 792, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    4. Claudio Zoli & Peter Lambert, 2012. "Sequential procedures for poverty gap dominance," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 39(2), pages 649-673, July.
    5. Laurence Kranich, 2009. "Measuring opportunity inequality with monetary transfers," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(4), pages 371-385, December.
    6. Bosmans, Kristof & Decancq, Koen & Ooghe, Erwin, 2015. "What do normative indices of multidimensional inequality really measure?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 94-104.

    More about this item


    Pigou-Dalton principle Multidimensional inequality measurement Majorization Budget dominance Needs Equivalence scale;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:144:y:2009:i:3:p:1358-1371. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.