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The Tyranny Puzzle in Welfare Economics: An empirical investigation


  • Marc Fleurbaey
  • Frank A Cowell
  • Bertil Tungodden


We address a puzzle in welfare economics - the possibility that rational people may be simultaneously against two apparently con‡icting forms of "tyranny." In fact the two types of tyranny can be reconciled but at the possible cost of con‡ict with other standard welfare principles. We examine whether such con‡icts do arise using a questionnaire-experimental study. Our study shows that both tyrannies are rejected by a majority of the parti- cipants, and in many cases also pose a practical problem in moral reasoning

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  • Marc Fleurbaey & Frank A Cowell & Bertil Tungodden, 2010. "The Tyranny Puzzle in Welfare Economics: An empirical investigation," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 05, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stippp:05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Capeau, Bart & Ooghe, Erwin, 2007. "On comparing heterogeneous populations: Is there really a conflict between welfarism and a concern for greater equality in living standards?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-28, January.
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    Keywords: social welfare; aggregation; questionnaire; income distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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