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The consistency of welfare judgements with a representative consumer

  • Dow, James
  • Werlang, Sérgio Ribeiro da Costa

This paper is about economies with a representative consumer. In general a representative consumer need not exist, although there are several well known sets of sufficient conditions under which Qne will. It is common practice, however, to use the representative consumer hypothesis without specifically assuming any of these. We show, firstly, that it is possible for the utility of the representative consumer to increase when every actual consumer is made worse off. This shows a serious shortcoming of welfare judgements based on the representatíve consumer. Secondly, in economies where this does not occur, there exists a social welfare function, which we construct, which is consistent with welfare judgements based on the utility of the representative consumer. Finally we provide a converse to Samuelson' s 1956 representative consumer result, which relates it to Scitovsky's community indifference curves.

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Paper provided by FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) with number 87.

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Date of creation: 1986
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Handle: RePEc:fgv:epgewp:87
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