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Do irrelevant commodities matter?

  • Marc Fleurbaey


    (CERSES - Centre de recherche sens, ethique, société - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UPD5 - Université Paris Descartes - Paris 5)

  • 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
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Econometrica, Econometric Society, 2007, 75, pp.1143-1174
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00246315
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  1. 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.
  2. LeBreton, M., 1994. "Arrovian Social Choice on Economic Domains," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 94a37, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Marc Fleurbaey & Kotaro Suzumura & Koichi Tadenuma, 2005. "The informational basis of the theory of fair allocation," Post-Print hal-00247023, HAL.
  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, 04.
  7. Marc Fleurbaey & François Maniquet, 2008. "Fair social orderings," Post-Print hal-00246525, HAL.
  8. Elisha A. Pazner & David Schmeidler, 1978. "Egalitarian Equivalent Allocations: A New Concept of Economic Equity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(4), pages 671-687.
  9. Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
  10. Redekop, James, 1991. "Social welfare functions on restricted economic domains," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 396-427, April.
  11. John Bone, 2003. "Simple Arrow-type propositions in the Edgeworth domain," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 20(1), pages 41-48.
  12. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1988. "Social choice in economic environments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 291-308, December.
  13. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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