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Robust Normative Comparisons of Socially Risky Situations




In this paper, we characterize and empirically implement robust normative criteria for comparing societies on the basis of their allocations of risks among their members. Risks are modelled as lotteries on the set of distributions of state-contingent pecuniary consequences. Individuals are assumed to have individualistic Von Neuman-Morgenstern preferences for these risks. Appealing to Harsanyi’s aggregation theorem, we provide empirically implementable criteria that coincide with the unanimity, over all such individual preferences, of anonymous and Pareto-inclusive Von Neuman Morgenstern social rankings of risks. The empirically implementable criteria can be interpreted as sequential expected poverty dominance. Illustrations of the usefulness of the criteria for comparing the exposure to unemployment risk of different segments of the French and US workforce and for appraising the evolution, over time, of risks of violent crimes in India are also provided.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Gravel & Benoit Tarroux, 2008. "Robust Normative Comparisons of Socially Risky Situations," IDEP Working Papers 0806, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 15 Oct 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0806

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    1. Givord, Pauline & Maurin, Eric, 2004. "Changes in job security and their causes: An empirical analysis for France, 1982-2002," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 595-615, June.
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    3. Jean-Yves Duclos & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 943-968, October.
    4. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    5. Nicolas Gravel & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, 2010. "Is India better off today than 15 years ago? A robust multidimensional answer," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(2), pages 173-195, June.
    6. Viscusi, W Kip & Evans, William N, 1990. "Utility Functions That Depend on Health Status: Estimates and Economic Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 353-374, June.
    7. Russell Davidson & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1435-1464, November.
    8. Indranil Dutta & James Foster & Ajit Mishra, 2011. "On measuring vulnerability to poverty," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 37(4), pages 743-761, October.
    9. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
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    11. Nicolas Gravel & Patrick Moyes & Benoît Tarroux, 2009. "Robust International Comparisons of Distributions of Disposable Income and Regional Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(303), pages 432-461, July.
    12. Jenkins, Stephen P & Lambert, Peter J, 1993. "Ranking Income Distributions When Needs Differ," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(4), pages 337-356, December.
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    More about this item


    Risk; Dominance; ex-ante Social Welfare; Expected Poverty; Unemployment; Crime.;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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