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Public choice interpretations of distributional preference


  • Harold Hochman


This essay examines, from the perspective of both economics and ethics, the logical foundations of income transfers in a democratic society that allocates resources, in the large, through free markets. Such transfers, enacted through the public choice process, modify the market-determined distribution of income, as a reflection of the distributional preferences of the members of a society. Both constitutional and post-constitutional explanations of redistributions are considered. A discussion of recent experimental evidence of distributional preferences leads into a critique of simple equality, built on Michael Walzer's distinction between monopoly and dominance, as a criterion of distributive justice. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Suggested Citation

  • Harold Hochman, 1996. "Public choice interpretations of distributional preference," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 3-20, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:7:y:1996:i:1:p:3-20
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00143476

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. von Furstenberg, George M & Mueller, Dennis C, 1971. "The Pareto Optimal Approach to Income Redistribution: A Fiscal Application," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 628-637, September.
    2. Hochman, Harold M, 1972. "Individual Preferences and Distributional Adjustments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(2), pages 353-360, May.
    3. Hochman, Harold M. & Nitzan, Shmuel, 1985. "Concepts of extended preference," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 161-176, June.
    4. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Sen, Amartya, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 152-157, Jan.-Feb..
    6. John H. Beck, 1994. "An Experimental Test of Preferences for the Distribution of Income and Individual Risk Aversion," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 131-145, Spring.
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    More about this item


    A1; HQ; 13;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics


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