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Tout est au mieux dans ce meilleur des ménages possibles The Pangloss critique of equivalence scales

A common approach to defining equivalence scales is to consider a household modelled as if it maximizes a single utility function. This may be founded on an assumption of the household maximizing a welfare function of individual utilities. For a positive analysis of the household, this may be appropriate, but it is argued that basing inter-household comparisons of welfare on this approach is generally not valid. The household will generally put different weight on the utility of the various household members, and this weighting does not necessarily correspond to society's aggregation of utility. This complication is called the Pangloss problem. An alternative definition of equivalence scales taking this into account is introduced and discussed.

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Paper provided by Statistics Norway, Research Department in its series Discussion Papers with number 296.

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Date of creation: Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:296
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  13. Del Boca, D. & Flinn, C.J., 1993. "Rationalizing Child Support Decisions," Working Papers 93-16, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  14. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1990. "How Serious Is the Neglect of Intra-Household Inequality?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 866-81, September.
  16. Bourguignon, F., 1999. "The Cost of Children: May the Collective Approach to Household Behavior Help?," DELTA Working Papers 1999-01, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  17. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
  18. Bojer, H., 1998. "Equivalence Scales and Intra-Household Distribution," Memorandum 28/1998, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  19. Pollak, Robert A., 1981. "The social cost of living index," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 311-336, June.
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