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Equally-distributed equivalent utility, ex post egalitarianism and utilitarianism

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  • Grant, Simon
  • Kajii, Atsushi
  • Polak, Ben
  • Safra, Zvi

Abstract

We provide an axiomatization of expected equally-distributed equivalent-utility social welfare functions in the context of Harsanyiʼs impartial observer theorem. For this family of social welfare functions, we show what additional axiom is necessary and sufficient for the observer to exhibit aversion to ex post inequality. We also relate this axiomatization to our axiomatization in a companion paper of generalized utilitarian social welfare functions. Given certain richness assumptions, the only social welfare functions that belong to both families are the utilitarian.

Suggested Citation

  • Grant, Simon & Kajii, Atsushi & Polak, Ben & Safra, Zvi, 2012. "Equally-distributed equivalent utility, ex post egalitarianism and utilitarianism," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1545-1571.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:147:y:2012:i:4:p:1545-1571
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2011.04.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marc Fleurbaey, 2010. "Assessing Risky Social Situations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 649-680, August.
    2. Simon Grant & Atsushi Kajii & Ben Polak & Zvi Safra, 2010. "Generalized Utilitarianism and Harsanyi's Impartial Observer Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1939-1971, November.
    3. Thibault Gajdos & Feriel Kandil, 2008. "The ignorant observer," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 31(2), pages 193-232, August.
    4. Peter A. Diamond, 1967. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparison of Utility: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 765-765.
    5. Edi Karni & John A. Weymark, 1998. "An informationally parsimonious impartial observer theorem," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 15(3), pages 321-332.
    6. Alon Harel, 2005. "Ex-Post Egalitarianism and Legal Justice," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 57-75, April.
    7. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    8. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434-434.
    9. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Possibility Theorems with Interpersonally Comparable Welfare Levels," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 409-420.
    10. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    11. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2015. "Discounting, beyond utilitarianism," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 9, pages 1-52.
    2. Gajdos, Thibault & Weymark, John A., 2012. "Introduction to inequality and risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1313-1330.
    3. Loïc Berger & Johannes Emmerling, 2017. "Welfare as Simple(x) Equity Equivalents," Working Papers 2017.14, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    4. Piacquadio, Paolo G., 2015. "The Ethics of Intergenerational Risk," Memorandum 15/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    5. Chew, Soo Hong & Sagi, Jacob S., 2012. "An inequality measure for stochastic allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1517-1544.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Utilitarianism; Harsanyiʼs (impartial) observer; Social welfare function; Ex post egalitarianism;

    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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