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Social rationality, separability, and equity under uncertainty

  • FLEURBAEY, Marc

    ()

    (CNRS, Université Paris Descartes, CERSES, France)

  • GAJDOS, Thibault

    ()

    (CNRS, Ecole Polytechnique and CERSES, France)

  • ZUBER, Stéphane

    ()

    (Université catholique de Louvain, CORE and Chair Lhoist Berghmans in Environmental Economics, Belgium)

Harsanyi (1955) proved that, in the context of uncertainty, social ratio- nality and the Pareto principle impose severe constraints on the degree of priority for the worst-off that can be adopted in the social evaluation. Since then, the literature has hesitated between an ex ante approach that relaxes rationality (Diamond (1967)) and an ex post approach that fails the Pareto principle (Hammond (1983), Broome (1991)). The Hammond-Broome ex post approach conveniently retains the separable form of utilitarianism but does not make it explicit how to give priority to the worst-off, and how much disre- spect of individual preferences this implies. Fleurbaey (2008) studies how to incorporate a priority for the worst-off in an explicit formulation, but leaves aside the issue of ex ante equity in lotteries, retaining a restrictive form of consequentialism. We extend the analysis to a framework allowing for ex ante equity considerations to play a role in the ex post approach, and find a richer configuration of possible criteria. But the general outlook of the Harsanyian dilemma is confirmed in this more general setting.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2010037.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2010037
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  1. Charles Blackorby & David Donaldson & Philippe Mongin, 2004. "Social Aggregation Without the Expected Utility Hypothesis," Working Papers hal-00242932, HAL.
  2. Antoine Bommier & Stéphane Zuber, 2008. "Can preferences for catastrophe avoidance reconcile social discounting with intergenerational equity?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 415-434, October.
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  4. Grant, Simon, 1995. "Subjective Probability without Monotonicity: Or How Machina's Mom May Also Be Probabilistically Sophisticated," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 159-89, January.
  5. Thibault Gajdos & Eric Maurin, 2002. "Unequal uncertainties and uncertain inequalities: an axiomatic approach," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 15-2003, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research, revised Mar 2003.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521825511 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00266049 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. FLEURBAEY, Marc, . "Assessing risky social situations," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2289, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Thibault Gajdos & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2008. "Representation and aggregation of preferences under uncertainty," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00266049, HAL.
  10. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 2012. "Fairness, risk preferences and independence: Impossibility theorems," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 606-612.
  11. 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.
  12. Christopher P. Chambers & Takashi Hayashi, 2014. "Preference Aggregation With Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(2), pages 589-599, 03.
  13. Machina, Mark J, 1989. "Dynamic Consistency and Non-expected Utility Models of Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 1622-68, December.
  14. Peter A. Diamond, 1967. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparison of Utility: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 765.
  15. 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.
  16. Ben-Porath, Elchanan & Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1997. "On the Measurement of Inequality under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 194-204, July.
  17. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2009. "Two variants of Harsanyi's aggregation theorem," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 300-302, December.
  18. 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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  20. Hammond, Peter J, 1981. "Ex-ante and Ex-post Welfare Optimality under Uncertainty," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 48(191), pages 235-50, August.
  21. Chew, Soo Hong & Sagi, Jacob S., 2012. "An inequality measure for stochastic allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1517-1544.
  22. Costis Skiadas, 1997. "Conditioning and Aggregation of Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 347-368, March.
  23. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1999. "Harsanyi's social aggregation theorem for state-contingent alternatives1," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 365-387, November.
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