IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Hammond’s Equity Principle and the Measurement of Ordinal Inequalities


  • Nicolas Gravel

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - Ecole Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

  • Brice Magdalou

    (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UM3 - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - INRA Montpellier - Institut national de la recherche agronomique [Montpellier] - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier)

  • Patrick Moyes

    (GREThA - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


What would be the analogue of the Lorenz quasi-ordering when the variable of interest is of a purely ordinal nature? We argue that it is possible to derive such a criterion by substituting for the Pigou-Dalton transfer used in the standard inequality literature what we refer to as a Hammond progressive transfer. According to this criterion, one distribution of utilities is considered to be less unequal than another if it is judged better by both the lexicographic extensions of the maximin and the minimax, henceforth referred to as the leximin and the antileximax, respectively. If one imposes in addition that an increase in someone’s utility makes the society better off, then one is left with the leximin, while the requirement that society welfare increases as the result of a decrease of one person’s utility gives the antileximax criterion. Incidently, the paper provides an alternative and simple characterisation of the leximin principle widely used in the social choice and welfare literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Gravel & Brice Magdalou & Patrick Moyes, 2017. "Hammond’s Equity Principle and the Measurement of Ordinal Inequalities," Working Papers halshs-01430838, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-01430838
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Patrick Moyes, 2013. "Rearrangements and sequential rank order dominance," Post-Print hal-01135291, HAL.
    2. Tungodden, Bertil, 2000. "Egalitarianism: Is Leximin the Only Option?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(02), pages 229-245, October.
    3. Patrick MOYES, 2013. "Rearrangements and Sequential Rank Order Dominance," Cahiers du GREThA 2013-10, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    4. Brice Magdalou & Patrick Moyes, 2009. "Deprivation, welfare and inequality," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 32(2), pages 253-273, February.
    5. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Equity, Arrow's Conditions, and Rawls' Difference Principle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 793-804, July.
    6. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Equity in Two Person Situations: Some Consequences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1127-1135, September.
    7. Peter C. Fishburn, 1978. "Stochastic Dominance Without Transitive Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(12), pages 1268-1277, August.
    8. Nicolas Gravel & Brice Magdalou & Patrick Moyes, 2014. "Ranking Distributions of an Ordinal Attribute," AMSE Working Papers 1450, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France.
    9. Gevers, Louis, 1979. "On Interpersonal Comparability and Social Welfare Orderings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 75-89, January.
    10. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
    11. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1998. "A Quasiordering Is the Intersection of Orderings," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 382-387, February.
    12. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-1572, October.
    13. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Possibility Theorems with Interpersonally Comparable Welfare Levels," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 409-420.
    14. Allison, R. Andrew & Foster, James E., 2004. "Measuring health inequality using qualitative data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 505-524, May.
    15. Moyes, Patrick, 2013. "Rearrangements and sequential rank order dominance," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 278-290.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    ordinal inequality; Hammond equity axiom; leximin; antileximax;

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-01430838. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CCSD). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.