IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

On Wold’s approach to representation of preferences


  • Banerjee, Kuntal
  • Mitra, Tapan


This paper presents easily verifiable sufficient conditions on sequence spaces that guarantee representation of preference orders. Our approach involves identifying a suitable subset of the set of alternatives, such that (a) the preference order is representable on this subset, and (b) the subset has the property that for each alternative, there is some element in this subset which is indifferent to it. We follow Wold in choosing this subset to be the diagonal. Our first result uses a weak monotonicity condition (on the diagonal), and a substitution condition, and may be identified as the essence of Wold’s contribution. In the second result, we show that one can obtain a Wold-type representation result when weak monotonicity is replaced by a weak continuity condition. We use the countable order-dense characterization of representability in the proofs of both results, thereby integrating the contributions of Wold (1943) and Debreu (1954). Through a series of examples we show that our representation results are robust; they cannot be improved upon by dropping any of our conditions. An example is also presented to show that existence of degenerate indifference classes is compatible with the representation of monotone preferences. Our study thereby indicates that while the presence of substitution possibilities can be useful in representing preferences, they are not necessary for such results to hold.

Suggested Citation

  • Banerjee, Kuntal & Mitra, Tapan, 2018. "On Wold’s approach to representation of preferences," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 65-74.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:mateco:v:79:y:2018:i:c:p:65-74
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmateco.2018.08.007

    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 search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Geir Asheim & Tapan Mitra & Bertil Tungodden, 2012. "Sustainable recursive social welfare functions," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(2), pages 267-292, February.
    2. Simone Galperti & Bruno Strulovici, 2017. "A Theory of Intergenerational Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1175-1218, July.
    3. Rosario Laratta (ed.), 2012. "Social Welfare," Books, IntechOpen, number 1876, Julio-Sep.
    4. Christopher P. Chambers & Alan D. Miller, 2014. "Inefficiency Measurement," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 79-92, May.
    5. Monteiro, Paulo Klinger, 1987. "Some results on the existence of utility functions on path connected spaces," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 147-156, April.
    6. Kalai, Ehud, 1977. "Proportional Solutions to Bargaining Situations: Interpersonal Utility Comparisons," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1623-1630, October.
    7. Tapan Mitra & M. Ozbek, 2013. "On representation of monotone preference orders in a sequence space," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 41(3), pages 473-487, September.
    8. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    9. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, 1954. "Choice, Expectations and Measurability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(4), pages 503-534.
    10. Kuntal Banerjee, 2014. "On the representation of preference orders on sequence spaces," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 43(2), pages 497-506, August.
    11. Beardon, Alan F. & Candeal, Juan C. & Herden, Gerhard & Indurain, Esteban & Mehta, Ghanshyam B., 2002. "Lexicographic decomposition of chains and the concept of a planar chain," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 95-104, April.
    12. Beardon, Alan F & Mehta, Ghanshyam B, 1994. "The Utility Theorems of Wold, Debreu, and Arrow-Hahn," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 181-186, January.
    13. Beardon, Alan F. & Candeal, Juan C. & Herden, Gerhard & Indurain, Esteban & Mehta, Ghanshyam B., 2002. "The non-existence of a utility function and the structure of non-representable preference relations," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 17-38, February.
    14. Jens Hougaard & Hans Keiding, 1998. "On the Functional Form of an Efficiency Index," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 103-111, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    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:mateco:v:79:y:2018:i:c:p:65-74. 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: (Haili He). 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.