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Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?


  • Tungodden, B.


It has been argued that any plausible egalitarian theory should give asbolute priority to the worst off in a conflict with the best off in society. In this paper, we show that this framework is closely linked to the leximin approach, and on the basis of a condition named the conditional contracting extremes, we provide characterisations of both the maximin and the leximin principle. Moreover, we argue that this condition is too strong to embrace every plausible egalitarian perspective, and suggest a weaker condition which allows for a broader view on egalitarianism.

Suggested Citation

  • Tungodden, B., 1999. "Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?," Papers 4/99, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:norgee:4/99

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-764, July.
    2. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    3. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. II," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 82-111, August.
    4. Anthony F. Shorrocks & James E. Foster, 1987. "Transfer Sensitive Inequality Measures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 485-497.
    5. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1976. "Unequal inequalities. I," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 416-442, June.
    6. Menezes, C & Geiss, C & Tressler, J, 1980. "Increasing Downside Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 921-932, December.
    7. Davies, James & Hoy, Michael, 1995. "Making Inequality Comparisons When Lorenz Curves Intersect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 980-986, September.
    8. Kakwani, Nanak, 1980. "On a Class of Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 437-446, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roland Iwan Luttens & Erwin Ooghe, 2007. "Is it Fair to 'Make Work Pay'?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(296), pages 599-626, November.
    2. Michele Lombardi & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd09-078, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    3. Nicolas Gravel & Brice Magdalou & Patrick Moyes, 2017. "Hammond’s Equity Principle and the Measurement of Ordinal Inequalities," AMSE Working Papers 1703, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France.
    4. Kristof Bosmans, 2007. "Comparing degrees of inequality aversion," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 29(3), pages 405-428, October.
    5. LUTTENS, Roland Iwan & OOGHE, Erwin, 2006. "Is it fair to ‘make work pay’ ?," CORE Discussion Papers 2006026, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    6. Marc Fleurbaey, 2005. "The Pazner-Schmeidler social ordering: A defense," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 9(2), pages 145-166, April.
    7. repec:spr:etbull:v:1:y:2013:i:2:d:10.1007_s40505-013-0017-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:wly:econjl:v:126:y:2016:i:597:p:2173-2196 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty


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