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The News of the Death of Welfare Economics is Greatly Exaggerated

  • Marc Fleurbaey

    ()

    (CATT - IDEP)

  • Philippe Mongin

    (CECO - Laboratoire d'econometrie de l'école polytechnique - CNRS - Polytechnique - X)

The paper reexamines the controversy about Bergson-Samuelson social welfare functions (BSF) that took place between welfare economists and social choice theorists as a consequence of Arrow's impossibility theorem. The 1970's witnessed a new version of the theorem that was meant to establish that BSF "make interpersonal comparisons of utility or are dictatorial''. Against this, Samuelson reasserted the existence of well-behaved "ordinalist'' BSF and generally denied the relevance of Arrovian impossibilities to welfare economics. The paper formalizes and reassesses each camp's arguments. While being also critical of Samuelson's, it eventually endorses his conclusion that welfare economics was left untouched by the controversy. It draws some connections of BSF with contemporary normative economics.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00242931.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00242931
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  1. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Fair social orderings," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1995, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Amartya K. Sen, 1971. "Choice Functions and Revealed Preference," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 307-317.
  3. Marc Fleurbaey & François Maniquet, 2006. "Fair Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 55-83.
  4. Georges Bordes & Peter J. Hammond & Michel Le Breton, 2005. "Social Welfare Functionals on Restricted Domains and in Economic Environments," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(1), pages 1-25, 02.
  5. Mongin, Philippe, 1998. "Does optimization imply rationality?," MPRA Paper 37740, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Kemp, Murray C & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1976. "On the Existence of Social Welfare Functions, Social Orderings and Social Decision Functions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(169), pages 59-66, February.
  7. I. M. D. Little, 1952. "Social Choice and Individual Values," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 422.
  8. FLEURBAEY, Marc & MANIQUET, François, . "Help the low skilled or let the hardworking thrive? A study of fairness in optimal income taxation," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1970, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
  10. 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.
  11. Mongin, P., 1999. "Normes et jugements de valeur en economie normative," Papers 99-20, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
  12. Little, I. M. D., 1999. "Collection and Recollections: Economic Papers and their Provenance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198295242, December.
  13. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
  14. Atkinson, Anthony B, 2001. "The Strange Disappearance of Welfare Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 193-206.
  15. Marc Fleurbaey, 2003. "On the informational basis of social choice," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 21(2), pages 347-384, October.
  16. 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.
  17. Kemp, Murray C. & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1983. "Individualistic social welfare functions under ordinalism: a reply to Mayston," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 305-307, July.
  18. Gravel, Nicolas, 1994. "On the Difficulty of Combining Actual and Potential Criteria for an Increase in Social Welfare," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 1994009, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  19. Robert P. Parks, 1976. "An Impossibility Theorem for Fixed Preferences: A Dictatorial Bergson-Samuelson Welfare Function," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 447-450.
  20. Weymark, John A., 1998. "Welfarism on economic domains1," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 251-268, December.
  21. P. Mongin, 2000. "Is there progress in normative economics ?," THEMA Working Papers 2000-37, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  22. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Social Choice Theory: The Single-profile and Multi-profile Approaches," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 441-450.
  23. Kemp, Murray C. & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1982. "The incompatibility of individualism and ordinalism," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 33-37, July.
  24. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A, 1984. "Social Choice with Interpersonal Utility Comparisons: A Diagrammatic Introduction," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(2), pages 327-56, June.
  25. Robert A. Pollak, 1979. "Bergson-Samuelson Social Welfare Functions and the Theory of Social Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(1), pages 73-90.
  26. Kemp, Murray C & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1977. "More on Social Welfare Functions: The Incompatibility of Individualism and Ordinalism," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(173), pages 89-90, February.
  27. Suzumura, Kotaro, 1999. "Paretian Welfare Judgements and Bergsonian Social Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 204-20, April.
  28. Stephan Boehm & Christian Gehrke & Heinz D. Kurz & Richard Sturn (ed.), 2002. "Is There Progress in Economics?," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2403.
  29. Suzumura, Kotaro, 2001. "Pareto principles from Inch to Ell," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 95-98, January.
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