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Interpersonal Comparisons of Well-Being

  • BLACKORBY, Charles
  • BOSSERT, Walter

This paper, which is to be published as a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Political Economy, provides an introduction to social-choice theory with interpersonal comparisons of well-being. We argue that the most promising route of escape from the negative conclusion of Arrow’s theorem is to use a richer informational environment than ordinal measurability and the absence of interpersonal comparability of well-being. We discuss welfarist social evaluation (which requires that the levels of individual well-being in two alternatives are the only determinants of their social ranking) and present characterizations of some important social-evaluation orderings.

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Paper provided by Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 06-2004.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:06-2004
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  1. BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 14-2006, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  2. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1992. "Pigs and Guinea Pigs: A Note on the Ethics of Animal Exploitation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(415), pages 1345-69, November.
  3. Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 2005. "Multi_profile welfarism: a generalization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 227-228, October.
  4. Deschamps, Robert & Gevers, Louis, 1978. "Leximin and utilitarian rules: A joint characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 143-163, April.
  5. Gevers, Louis, 1979. "On Interpersonal Comparability and Social Welfare Orderings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 75-89, January.
  6. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
  7. Sen, Amartya K, 1979. "Personal Utilities and Public Judgements: Or What's Wrong with Welfare Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(355), pages 537-58, September.
  8. Pollak, Robert A, 1971. "Additive Utility Functions and Linear Engel Curves," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(116), pages 401-14, October.
  9. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1982. "Ratio-Scale and Translation-Scale Full Interpersonal Comparability without Domain Restrictions: Admissible Social-Evaluation Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 23(2), pages 249-68, June.
  10. Charles Blackorby & David Donaldson & Philippe Mongin, 2004. "Social Aggregation Without the Expected Utility Hypothesis," Working Papers hal-00242932, HAL.
  11. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Equity in Two Person Situations: Some Consequences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1127-35, September.
  12. Mongin, Ph., 1991. "Harsanyi's aggregation theorem: multi-profile version and unsettled questions," CORE Discussion Papers 1991036, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521825511 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. "Utilitarianism and the theory of justice," 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 11, pages 543-596 Elsevier.
  15. Roberts, Kevin W S, 1980. "Possibility Theorems with Interpersonally Comparable Welfare Levels," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 409-20, January.
  16. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1999. "Harsanyi's social aggregation theorem for state-contingent alternatives1," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 365-387, November.
  17. Roberts, Kevin W S, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 421-39, January.
  18. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
  19. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A, 1984. "Social Choice with Interpersonal Utility Comparisons: A Diagrammatic Introduction," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(2), pages 327-56, June.
  20. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
  21. 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.
  22. Maskin, Eric, 1978. "A Theorem on Utilitarianism," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 93-96, February.
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