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Comparing degrees of inequality aversion

  • Kristof Bosmans

    ()

We propose a straightforward dominance procedure for comparing social welfare orderings (SWOs) with respect to the degree of inequality aversion they express. We consider three versions of the procedure: (i) a criterion based on the Lorenz quasi-ordering which we argue to be the ideal version, (ii) a criterion based on a minimalist concept of inequality, and (iii) a criterion based on the relative differentials quasi-ordering. It turns out that the traditional Arrow-Pratt approach is equivalent to the latter two criteria for important classes of SWOs, but that it is profoundly inconsistent with the Lorenz-based criterion. With respect to the problem of combining extreme inequality aversion and monotonicity, criteria (ii) and (iii) identify as extremely inequality averse a set of SWOs that includes leximin as a special case, whereas the Lorenz-based criterion concludes that extreme inequality aversion and monotonicity are incompatible.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00355-006-0213-0
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 29 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
Pages: 405-428

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:29:y:2007:i:3:p:405-428
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  1. Alain Chateauneuf & Patrick Moyes, 2005. "Lorenz non-consistent welfare and inequality measurement," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 61-87, January.
  2. Tungodden, Bertil, 2000. "Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(02), pages 229-245, October.
  3. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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