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Arrow's impossibility theorem: Two simple single-profile versions


  • Allan M. Feldman

    () (Brown University)

  • Roberto Serrano

    () (Brown University and IMDEA Social Sciences)


In this short paper we provide two simple new versions of Arrow's impossibility theorem, in a world with only one preference profile. Both versions are extremely transparent. The first version assumes a two-agent society; the second version, which is similar to a theorem of Pollak, assumes two or more agents. Both of our theorems rely on diversity of preferences axioms, and we explore alternative notions of diversity at length. Our first theorem also uses a neutrality assumption, commonly used in the literature; our second theorem uses a neutrality/monotonicity assumption, which is stronger and less commonly used. We provide examples to show the logical independence of the axioms, and to illustrate our points.

Suggested Citation

  • Allan M. Feldman & Roberto Serrano, 2007. "Arrow's impossibility theorem: Two simple single-profile versions," Working Papers 2007-07, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
  • Handle: RePEc:imd:wpaper:wp2007-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marc Fleurbaey & Philippe Mongin, 2005. "The news of the death of welfare economics is greatly exaggerated," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 25(2), pages 381-418, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "Social Choice Theory: A Re-examination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 53-89, January.
    4. Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Reaffirming the Existence of "Reasonable" Bergson-Samuelson Social Welfare Functions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(173), pages 81-88, February.
    5. 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.
    6. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1984. "The Single Profile Analogues to Multi Profile Theorems: Mathematical Logic's Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(3), pages 719-730, October.
    7. Campbell, Donald E. & Kelly, Jerry S., 2002. "Impossibility theorems in the arrovian framework," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare,in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 35-94 Elsevier.
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    More about this item


    Arrow's theorem; single-profile;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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