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The news of the death of welfare economics is greatly exaggerated

Listed author(s):
  • Marc Fleurbaey

    ()

  • Philippe Mongin

    ()

The paper reexamines the controversy about Bergson-Samuelson social welfare functions (BSFs) that took place between welfare economists and social choice theorists as a consequence of Arrow's (1951) impossibility theorem. The 1970's witnessed a new version of the theorem that was meant to establish that BSFs "make interpersonal comparisons of utility or are dictatorial". Against this, Samuelson reasserted the existence of well-behaved "ordinalist" BSFs and generally denied the relevance of Arrovian impossibilities to welfare economics. The paper formalizes and reassesses each camp's arguments. While being also critical of Samuelson's, it eventually endorses his conclusion that welfare economics was left untouched by the controversy. It draws some connections of BSFs with contemporary normative economics.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00355-005-0010-1
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Article provided by Springer & The Society for Social Choice and Welfare in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 25 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (December)
Pages: 381-418

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:25:y:2005:i:2:p:381-418
DOI: 10.1007/s00355-005-0010-1
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springer.com

Web page: http://www.unicaen.fr/recherche/mrsh/scw/

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Order Information: Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/economic+theory/journal/355

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  1. Marc Fleurbaey & François Maniquet, 2006. "Fair income tax," Post-Print hal-00246842, HAL.
  2. P. Mongin, 2000. "Is there progress in normative economics ?," THEMA Working Papers 2000-37, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  3. Mongin, Philippe, 2006. "Normes et jugements de valeur en économie normative," Les Cahiers de Recherche 858, HEC Paris.
  4. Stephan Boehm & Christian Gehrke & Heinz D. Kurz & Richard Sturn (ed.), 2002. "Is There Progress in Economics?," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2403.
  5. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, "undated". "Help the low skilled or let the hardworking thrive? A study of fairness in optimal income taxation," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1970, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Kemp, Murray C. & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1983. "Individualistic social welfare functions under ordinalism: a reply to Mayston," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 305-307, July.
  7. Kemp, Murray C & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1976. "On the Existence of Social Welfare Functions, Social Orderings and Social Decision Functions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(169), pages 59-66, February.
  8. Georges Bordes & Peter J. Hammond & Michel Le Breton, 1997. "Social Welfare Functionals on Restricted Domains and in Economic Environments," Working Papers 97023, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  9. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A, 1984. "Social Choice with Interpersonal Utility Comparisons: A Diagrammatic Introduction," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(2), pages 327-356, June.
  10. Elisha A. Pazner & David Schmeidler, 1978. "Egalitarian Equivalent Allocations: A New Concept of Economic Equity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(4), pages 671-687.
  11. I. M. D. Little, 1952. "Social Choice and Individual Values," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 422-422.
  12. Robert P. Parks, 1976. "An Impossibility Theorem for Fixed Preferences: A Dictatorial Bergson-Samuelson Welfare Function," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 447-450.
  13. Weymark, John A., 1998. "Welfarism on economic domains1," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 251-268, December.
  14. P. Mongin, 1998. "Does optimization imply rationality ?," THEMA Working Papers 98-17, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  15. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Social Choice Theory: The Single-profile and Multi-profile Approaches," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 441-450.
  16. Kemp, Murray C & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1977. "More on Social Welfare Functions: The Incompatibility of Individualism and Ordinalism," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(173), pages 89-90, February.
  17. Robert A. Pollak, 1979. "Bergson-Samuelson Social Welfare Functions and the Theory of Social Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(1), pages 73-90.
  18. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-1572, October.
  19. Suzumura Kotaro, 1998. "Paretian Welfare Judgements and Bergsonian Social Choice," Discussion Paper Series a341, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  20. Kemp, Murray C. & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1982. "The incompatibility of individualism and ordinalism," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 33-37, July.
  21. Mayston, David J., 1982. "The generation of a social welfare function under ordinal preferences," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 109-129, September.
  22. Suzumura, Kotaro, 2001. "Pareto principles from Inch to Ell," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 95-98, January.
  23. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, "undated". "Fair social orderings," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1995, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  24. Amartya K. Sen, 1971. "Choice Functions and Revealed Preference," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 307-317.
  25. Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
  26. Nicolas Gravel, 2001. "On the difficulty of combining actual and potential criteria for an increase in social welfare," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 17(1), pages 163-180.
  27. Marc Fleurbaey, 2003. "On the informational basis of social choice," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 21(2), pages 347-384, October.
  28. Atkinson, Anthony B, 2001. "The Strange Disappearance of Welfare Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 193-206.
  29. Little, I. M. D., 1999. "Collection and Recollections: Economic Papers and their Provenance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198295242.
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