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Comparing degrees of inequality aversion

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  • Kristof Bosmans

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristof Bosmans, 2005. "Comparing degrees of inequality aversion," Working Papers Department of Economics ces0517, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ete:ceswps:ces0517
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    File URL: https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/500307/1/DPS0517.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tungodden, Bertil, 2000. "Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(02), pages 229-245, October.
    2. Alain Chateauneuf & Patrick Moyes, 2005. "Lorenz non-consistent welfare and inequality measurement," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 2(2), pages 61-87, January.
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Antoine Bommier & Francois Le Grand, "undated". "A Robust Approach to Risk Aversion," Working Papers ETH-RC-13-002, ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
    2. Kristof Bosmans, 2007. "Extreme inequality aversion without separability," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(3), pages 589-594, September.
    3. Antoine Bommier & Stéphane Zuber, 2012. "The Pareto Principle Of Optimal Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(2), pages 593-608, May.
    4. repec:spr:etbull:v:1:y:2013:i:2:d:10.1007_s40505-013-0017-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2012. "Distributional orderings: an approach with seven flavors," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 381-399, September.
    6. Bosmans, Kristof, 2014. "Distribution-sensitivity of rank-dependent poverty measures," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 69-76.
    7. Bart Capéau, 2013. "Size and distribution trade-offs for the leximin ordering," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 11(2), pages 237-248, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality Aversion; Lorenz; Leximin; Maximin; Risk Aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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