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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.

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Paper provided by Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France in its series IDEP Working Papers with number 0806.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 15 Oct 2008
Date of revision: 15 Oct 2008
Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0806
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  1. Nicolas Gravel & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, 2010. "Is India better off today than 15 years ago? A robust multidimensional answer," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 173-195, June.
  2. Nicolas Gravel & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay & Benoit Tarroux, 2008. "Policy focus: A robust normative evaluation of India's performance in allocating risks of death," Indian Growth and Development Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 95-111, April.
  3. FLEURBAEY, Marc, . "Assessing risky social situations," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2289, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Jakobsson, Ulf, 1976. "On the measurement of the degree of progression," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 161-168.
  5. Indranil Dutta & James Foster & Ajit Mishra, 2011. "On measuring vulnerability to poverty," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 743-761, October.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Givord, Pauline & Maurin, Eric, 2003. "Changes in Job Security and their Causes: An Empirical Analysis for France, 1982-2002," CEPR Discussion Papers 3830, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  10. 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 353-74, June.
  11. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Sahn, David & Younger, Stephen D., 2001. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Cahiers de recherche 0115, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  12. Gottschalk, Peter & Moffitt, Robert, 1999. "Changes in Job Instability and Insecurity Using Monthly Survey Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages S91-126, October.
  13. Atkinson, Anthony B & Bourguignon, Francois, 1982. "The Comparison of Multi-Dimensioned Distributions of Economic Status," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 183-201, April.
  14. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  15. Kolm, Serge-Christophe, 1977. "Multidimensional Egalitarianisms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-13, February.
  16. Nicolas Gravel & Patrick Moyes & Beno�T 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, 07.
  17. 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 337-56, December.
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