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Prevention against equality?

  • Fleurbaey, Marc
  • Ponthiere, Gregory

Common sense supports prevention policies aimed at improving survival prospects among the population. It is also widely acknowledged that an early death is a serious disadvantage, and that attention should be paid to the compensation of short-lived individuals. This paper re-examines the compatibility of those two concerns: prevention against early death and compensation for early death. We show that, under mild conditions, no social ordering on allocations can satisfy a concern for prevention and a concern for compensation. The reason is that if it is socially desirable to raise the number of survivors through prevention, it must also be, under costly prevention, desirable to deteriorate the living standards of the short-lived. We then explore two approaches to the prevention/compensation dilemma, and study the associated optimal allocation of resources.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 68-84

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:103:y:2013:i:c:p:68-84
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. John Mullahy & Jody L. Sindelar, 1995. "Employment, Unemployment, and Problem Drinking," NBER Working Papers 5123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mullahy, John & Portney, Paul R., 1990. "Air pollution, cigarette smoking, and the production of respiratory health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 193-205, September.
  3. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2008. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199215911, March.
  4. Easterlin, Richard A., 1999. "How beneficent is the market? A look at the modern history of mortality," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 257-294, December.
  5. S. Balia & AM. Jones, 2004. "Mortality, Lifestyle and Socio-Economic Status," Working Paper CRENoS 200416, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
  6. 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.
  7. Fleurbaey, Marc & Leroux, Marie-Louise & Ponthiere, Gregory, 2014. "Compensating the dead," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 28-41.
  8. Contoyannis, Paul & Jones, Andrew M., 2004. "Socio-economic status, health and lifestyle," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 965-995, September.
  9. Gary S. Becker & Tomas J. Philipson & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2003. "The Quantity and Quality of Life and the Evolution of World Inequality," NBER Working Papers 9765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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