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Do irrelevant commodities matter?

  • Marc Fleurbaey

    (CERSES - Centre de recherche sens, ethique, société - CNRS : UMR8137 - Université Paris Descartes)

  • Koichi Tadenuma

We study how to evaluate allocations independently of individual preferences over unavailable commodities. We prove impossibility results suggesting that such evaluations encounter serious difficulties. This is related to the well-known problem of performing international comparisons of standard of living across countries with different consumption goods. We show how possibility results can be retrieved with restrictions on the domain of preferences, on the application of the independence axiom or on the set of allocations to be ranked. Such restrictions appear more plausible when the objects of evaluation are allocations of composite commodities, characteristics or human functionings rather than ordinary commodities.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00246315.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Publication status: Published, Econometrica, 2007, 75, 1143–1174
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00246315
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00246315/en/
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  1. Redekop, James, 1991. "Social welfare functions on restricted economic domains," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 396-427, April.
  2. Marc Fleurbaey, 2005. "The Pazner-Schmeidler social ordering: A defense," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 145-166, 04.
  3. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2002. "The Informational Basis of the Theory of Fair Allocation," Discussion Papers 2002-11, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  4. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328.
  5. Le Breton, Michel & Weymark, John, 2002. "Arrovian Social Choice Theory on Economic Domains," IDEI Working Papers 143, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Sep 2003.
  6. John Bone, 2003. "Simple Arrow-type propositions in the Edgeworth domain," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 41-48.
  7. Mayston, David J., 1982. "The generation of a social welfare function under ordinal preferences," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 109-129, September.
  8. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Fair social orderings," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1995, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Bordes, Georges & Breton, Michel Le, 1989. "Arrovian theorems with private alternatives domains and selfish individuals," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 257-281, April.
  10. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2002. "Arrovian Aggregation in Economic Environments: How Much Should We Know About Indifference Surfaces?," Discussion Papers 2002-10, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  11. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1988. "Social choice in economic environments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 291-308, December.
  12. LeBreton, M., 1994. "Arrovian Social Choice on Economic Domains," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 94a37, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  13. Pazner, Elisha A & Schmeidler, David, 1978. "Egalitarian Equivalent Allocations: A New Concept of Economic Equity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 671-87, November.
  14. Border, Kim C., 1983. "Social welfare functions for economic environments with and without the pareto principle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 205-216, April.
  15. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2000. "Fair Social Orderings With Unequal Production Skills," THEMA Working Papers 2000-17, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
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