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Opportunities as chances: maximising the probability that everybody succeeds

  • Marco Mariotti

    ()

    (University of St Andrews)

  • Roberto Veneziani

    ()

    (Queen Mary University of London)

Opportunities in society are commonly interpreted as 'chances of success'. Within this interpretation, should opportunities be equalised? We show that a liberal principle of justice and a limited principle of social rationality imply that opportunity profiles should be evaluated by means of a 'Nash' criterion. The interpretation is new: the social objective should be to maximise the chance that everybody in society succeeds. In particular, the failure of even only one individual must be considered maximally detrimental. We also study a refinement of this criterion and its extension to problems of intergenerational justice. JEL Categories: D63, D70

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Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics in its series UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers with number 2012-09.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2012-09
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  1. Mariotti, Marco & Veneziani, Roberto, 2012. "Allocating chances of success in finite and infinite societies: The utilitarian criterion," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 226-236.
  2. Benabou, R. & Ok, E.A., 2000. "Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity," Papers 211, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  3. Lombardi, Michele & Miyagishima, Kaname & Veneziani, Roberto, 2013. "Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle," MPRA Paper 48458, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Marco Mariotti, 1998. "Fair Bargains: Distributive Justice and Nash Bargaining Theory," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 98/16, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Feb 1998.
  5. Marc Fleurbaey, 2009. "Assessing risky social situations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 27006, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Ok, E.A., 1996. "Inequality Averse Collective Choice," Working Papers 96-36, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  7. Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Intergenerational Equity," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 197-222, 09.
  8. Carmen Herrero, 1996. "Capabilities and utilities," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 69-88, December.
  9. Naumova, Natalia & Yanovskaya, Elena, 2001. "Nash social welfare orderings," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 203-231, November.
  10. Marc Fleurbaey & Walter Bossert, 1996. "Redistribution and compensation (*)," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 343-355.
  11. José Alcantud, 2013. "Liberal approaches to ranking infinite utility streams: when can we avoid interference?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 381-396, July.
  12. Ariel Rubinstein, 2000. "Economics and Language," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number lang1.
  13. Mariotti, Marco & Veneziani, Roberto, 2013. "On the impossibility of complete Non-Interference in Paretian social judgements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(4), pages 1689-1699.
  14. Kranich, Laurence, 1996. "Equitable Opportunities: An Axiomatic Approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 131-147, October.
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521789905 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. John A. Weymark & Kai-yuen Tsui, 1997. "Social welfare orderings for ratio-scale measurable utilities," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 241-256.
  17. 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.
  18. Basu, Kaushik & Mitra, Tapan, 2003. "Utilitarianism for Infinite Utility Streams: A New Welfare Criterion and Its Axiomatic Characterization," Working Papers 03-05, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  19. Efe A. Ok & Laurence Kranich, 1998. "The measurement of opportunity inequality: a cardinality-based approach," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 263-287.
  20. Geir B. Asheim & Kuntal Banerjee, 2010. "Fixed-step anonymous overtaking and catching-up," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 6(1), pages 149-165.
  21. Susumu Cato, 2009. "Characterizing the Nash social welfare relation for infinite utility streams: a note," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 2372-2379.
  22. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Equity, Arrow's Conditions, and Rawls' Difference Principle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 793-804, July.
  23. Marco Mariotti & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "The Paradoxes of the Liberal Ethics of Non-interference," Working Papers 653, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  24. Marco Mariotti & Roberto Veneziani, 2009. "‘Non-interference’ implies equality," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 123-128, January.
  25. Fleurbaey, Marc, 1995. "Equal Opportunity or Equal Social Outcome?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 25-55, April.
  26. Bosi, Gianni & Candeal, Juan Carlos & Indurain, Esteban, 2000. "Continuous representability of homothetic preferences by means of homogeneous utility functions," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 291-298, April.
  27. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521593069 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Bossert, Walter & Sprumont, Yves & Suzumura, Kotaro, 2007. "Ordering infinite utility streams," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 579-589, July.
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