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Voting For Equity: Estimating Society'S Preferences Toward Inequality

  • Jay S. Coggins

    ()

  • Federico Perali

    ()

Incorporating equity considerations in comparisons of economic policies is always challenging. This paper uses a social welfare function, a la Jorgenson and Slesnick, incorporating both e±ciency and equity to estimate society's preferences toward inequality. The function is based upon a demographically modified demand system that delivers an interpersonally comparable measure of individual welfare that aggregates exactly in a social welfare function. Our innovation is the development of a voting scheme for compiling individuals' equity preferences into a social decision. It is found that while preferences across households are heterogeneous, the Colombian preferences toward inequality are polarized around a low and a high degree of aversion to inequality. By majority rule, the Colombian society prefers the maximum possible equity. However, the most prosperous and educated deciles and the households living in Bogotà vote for higher inequality.

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Paper provided by CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY in its series CHILD Working Papers with number wp04_00.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpc:wplist:wp04_00
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  1. Buccola, Steven T & Sukume, Chrispen, 1993. "Social Welfare of Alternative Controlled-Price Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 86-96, February.
  2. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  3. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Money metric utility: A harmless normalization?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 120-129, October.
  4. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
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  8. Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
  9. Lewbel, Arthur, 1989. "Household equivalence scales and welfare comparisons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 377-391, August.
  10. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  11. Blackorby, Charles & Boyce, Richard & Russell, R Robert, 1978. "Estimation of Demand Systems Generated by the Gorman Polar Form: A Generalization of the S-Branch Utility Tree," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 345-63, March.
  12. Jorgenson, Dale W, 1990. "Aggregate Consumer Behavior and the Measurement of Social Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1007-40, September.
  13. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  14. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1994. "Consumption, Needs and Inequality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(3), pages 677-703, August.
  15. 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.
  16. Donaldson, D. & Pendakur, K., 1999. "Equivalent-Income Functions and Income-Dependent Equivalence Scales," Discussion Papers dp99-8, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  17. 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.
  18. Roberts, Kevin W S, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 421-39, January.
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