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Do Irrelevant Commodities Matter?

We study the possibility of making social evaluations independently of individual preferences over non-consumed commodities. This is related to the well-known problem of performing international comparisons of standard of living across countries with different consumption goods. We prove impossibility results which suggest that such evaluations encounter difficulties when the objects of evaluation are allocations of ordinary commodities. We show how possibility results can be retrieved when the objects of evaluation are allocations of composite commodities or human functionings.

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Paper provided by Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France in its series IDEP Working Papers with number 0504.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision: Jan 2005
Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0504
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  1. Marc Fleurbaey & Kotaro Suzumura & Koichi Tadenuma, 2005. "The informational basis of the theory of fair allocation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 311-341, 04.
  2. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2005. "Arrovian aggregation in economic environments: how much should we know about indifference surfaces?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 22-44, September.
  3. Redekop, James, 1991. "Social welfare functions on restricted economic domains," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 396-427, April.
  4. LeBreton, M., 1994. "Arrovian Social Choice on Economic Domains," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 94a37, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  5. Marc Fleurbaey, 2005. "The Pazner-Schmeidler social ordering: A defense," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 145-166, 04.
  6. John Bone, 2003. "Simple Arrow-type propositions in the Edgeworth domain," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 41-48.
  7. 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.
  8. Elisha A. Pazner & David Schmeidler, 1975. "Egalitarian Equivalent Allocations: A New Concept of Economic Equity," Discussion Papers 174, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. 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.
  10. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1988. "Social choice in economic environments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 291-308, December.
  11. 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.
  12. M. Fleurbaey & F. Maniquet, 2008. "Fair social orderings," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 25-45, January.
  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. 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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