IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability

In: Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare

  • d'Aspremont, Claude
  • Gevers, Louis

This chapter reviews the SWFL approach to social choice. It does not attempt to be a complete and systematic survey of existing results, but to give a critical assesment of the main axioms and their role in filtering the ethically relevant information, in particular the measurability and comparability properties of individual evaluation functions. Social welfare functionals are defined formally together with closely related concepts. After adducing a good number of examples, we elaborate on the meaning of the SWFL domain of definition and we sketch some alternative approaches. Several types of axioms are considered; some of them are used to filter the relevant information while others express collective efficiency or equity requirements. Then, to illustrate the various tradeoffs among these axioms, selected characterisation results are presented; most of them are cast in what we call the formally welfarist framework. Finally, we have assembled some other characterisations which eschew either invariance properties or the formally welfarist framework. We discuss the treatment of two sets of social alternatives endowed with an enriched structure, viz. the set of classical exchange economies and the complete set of lotteries one can define on an abstract set of pure alternatives. As an introduction to the latter discussion, we elaborate on the difficulties raised by social evaluation when risks and uncertainty are taken explicitly into account.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P65-4FFPH86-G/2/1853b7ffea57fd1e8d613c52ee058df7
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

as
in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), 2002. "Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare with number 1-10.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socchp:1-10
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. William Thomson, 2007. "Fair Allocation Rules," RCER Working Papers 539, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    2. Blackorby, C. & Donaldson, D. & Weymark, J.A., 1990. "A Welfarist Proof Of Arrow'S Theorem," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 90a12, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
    3. Kelsey, David, 1987. "The Role of Information in Social Welfare Judgements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 301-17, June.
    4. repec:ubc:bricol:90-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    6. Bossert, Walter & Stehling, Frank, 1992. "A Remark on Admissible Transformations for Interpersonally Comparable Utilities," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 739-44, August.
    7. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
    8. Claude D'Aspremont & Louis Gevers, 1977. "Equity and the Informational Basis of Collective Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(2), pages 199-209.
    9. Blau, Julian H, 1971. "Arrow's Theorem with Weak Independence," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 38(152), pages 413-20, November.
    10. Itzhak Gilboa & Elchanan Ben-Porath & David Schmeidler, 1997. "On the Measurement of Inequality under Uncertainty," Post-Print hal-00481334, HAL.
    11. Bossert, Walter, 1990. "An axiomatization of the single-series Ginis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 82-92, February.
    12. Barbara, Salvador & Jackson, Matthew, 1988. "Maximin, leximin, and the protective criterion: Characterizations and comparisons," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 34-44, October.
    13. Deschamps, Robert & Gevers, Louis, 1978. "Leximin and utilitarian rules: A joint characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 143-163, April.
    14. Epstein, Larry G & Segal, Uzi, 1992. "Quadratic Social Welfare Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 691-712, August.
    15. Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
    16. Mongin, P & d'Aspremont, C, 1996. "Utility Theory and Ethics," Papers 9632, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
    17. Tungodden, B., 1994. "Th Distribution Problem and Rawlsian Reasoning," Papers 16-94, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
    18. 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 327-56, June.
    19. WEYMARK, John A., . "Generalized Gini inequality indices," CORE Discussion Papers RP 453, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    20. Sprumont, Yves, 1996. "Axiomatizing Ordinal Welfare Egalitarianism When Preferences May Vary," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 77-110, January.
    21. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
    22. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
    23. John E. ROEMER, 1990. "Welfarism and Axiomatic Bargaining Theory," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1990032, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    24. Gerard Debreu, 1959. "Topological Methods in Cardinal Utility Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 76, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    25. Kalai, Ehud & Smorodinsky, Meir, 1975. "Other Solutions to Nash's Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 513-18, May.
    26. Basu, Kaushik, 1983. "Cardinal utility, utilitarianism, and a class of invariance axioms in welfare analysis," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 193-206, December.
    27. Moulin, Herve, 2002. "Axiomatic cost and surplus sharing," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 289-357 Elsevier.
    28. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Fair social orderings," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1995, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    29. 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.
    30. 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.
    31. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 421-439.
    32. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Equity, Arrow's Conditions, and Rawls' Difference Principle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 793-804, July.
    33. Eric Maskin, 1978. "A Theorem on Utilitarianism," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(1), pages 93-96.
    34. Amrita Dhillon, 1998. "Extended Pareto rules and relative utilitarianism," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 15(4), pages 521-542.
    35. Marc Fleurbaey & François Maniquet, 2006. "Compensation and responsibility," Working Papers halshs-00121367, HAL.
    36. Rakesh Sarin & Peter Wakker, 1994. "Folding Back in Decision Tree Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(5), pages 625-628, May.
    37. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2000. "Fair Social Orderings With Unequal Production Skills," THEMA Working Papers 2000-17, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    38. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
    39. d’ASPREMONT, Claude & MONGIN, Philippe, . "A welfarist version of Harsanyi's aggregation theorem," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2033, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    40. M. Kaneko, 1984. "On interpersonal utility comparisons," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 1(3), pages 165-175, October.
    41. Gevers, Louis, 1979. "On Interpersonal Comparability and Social Welfare Orderings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 75-89, January.
    42. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1977. "Extended Sympathy and the Possibility of Social Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 219-25, February.
    43. Wilson, Robert, 1972. "Social choice theory without the Pareto Principle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 478-486, December.
    44. 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.
    45. Gaertner, Wulf & Pattanaik, Prasanta K & Suzumura, Kotaro, 1992. "Individual Rights Revisited," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(234), pages 161-77, May.
    46. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1998. "Chance and justice: Social policies and the Harsanyi-Vickrey-Rawls problem," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(8), pages 1393-1416, September.
    47. Deschamps, Robert & Gevers, Louis, 1977. "Separability, risk-bearing, and social welfare judgements," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 77-94.
    48. Mongin, Ph., 1991. "Harsanyi's aggregation theorem: multi-profile version and unsettled questions," CORE Discussion Papers 1991036, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    49. Amrita Dhillon & Jean-Francois Mertens, 1999. "Relative Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 471-498, May.
    50. 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.
    51. Peter J. Hammond, 1999. "Roberts' Weak Welfarism Theorem: A Minor Correction," Working Papers 99021, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    52. Moulin, Herve, 1994. "Social choice," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 31, pages 1091-1125 Elsevier.
    53. John A. Weymark & Kai-yuen Tsui, 1997. "Social welfare orderings for ratio-scale measurable utilities," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 10(2), pages 241-256.
    54. Fleurbaey Marc, 1995. "Three Solutions for the Compensation Problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 505-521, April.
    55. 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.
    56. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1980. "A Theoretical Treatment of Indices of Absolute Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 107-36, February.
    57. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Equity in Two Person Situations: Some Consequences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1127-35, September.
    58. Hammond, P.J. & , ., 1987. "Consequentialist foundations for expected utility," CORE Discussion Papers 1987016, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    59. Ebert,Udo, 1986. "A note on social welfare orderings," Discussion Paper Serie A 42, University of Bonn, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socchp:1-10. 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: (Shamier, Wendy)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.