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Social Welfare Functions

  • John A Weymark


    (Vanderbilt University)

This article provides an introduction to the use of social welfare functions for the comparative evaluation of social alternatives. Three main approaches are considered: Bergson–Samuelson social welfare functions, Arrovian social welfare functions, and Sen's social welfare functionals. How the measurability and comparability of utility can be modelled and how limitations on the types of utility comparisons that are possible restricts the kinds of social welfare functions that can be considered is also discussed. Extensive social choice theory is used to deal with heterogeneous opinions about how to make utility comparisons.

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Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number vuecon-sub-13-00018.

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Date of creation: 26 Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:vuecon-sub-13-00018
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  3. Blackorby, C. & Donaldson, D. & Weymark, J.A., 1990. "A Welfarist Proof Of Arrow'S Theorem," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 90a12, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  4. John A. Weymark, 2005. "Measurement Theory and the Foundations of Utilitarianism," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0507, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
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  7. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1980. "A single-parameter generalization of the Gini indices of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 67-86, February.
  8. Fleurbaey, Marc & Suzumura, Kotaro & Tadenuma, Koichi, 2002. "The Informational Basis of the Theory of Fair Allocation," Discussion Papers 2002-11, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
  9. Broome, John, 2004. "Weighing Lives," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199243761, December.
  10. Blackorby,Charles & Bossert,Walter & Donaldson,David J., 2005. "Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521825511, April.
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  12. Marc Fleurbaey & Philippe Mongin, 2004. "The News of the Death of Welfare Economics is Greatly Exaggerated," Working Papers hal-00242931, HAL.
  13. Erwin Ooghe & Luc Lauwers, 2005. "Non-dictatorial extensive social choice," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 25(3), pages 721-743, 04.
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  17. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 421-439.
  18. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  19. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-72, October.
  20. Mandler, Michael, 2001. "Dilemmas in Economic Theory: Persisting Foundational Problems of Microeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195145755, December.
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  25. Deschamps, Robert & Gevers, Louis, 1978. "Leximin and utilitarian rules: A joint characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 143-163, April.
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