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Mr. Fairmind Is Post-Welfarist: Opinions on Distributive Justice


  • Erik Schokkaert



I survey the results of empirical research, showing that the opinions about distributive justice of the population at large are in sharp conflict with the assumptions of traditional welfare economics. I focus on the results concerning welfarism and concerning the Pigou-Dalton transfer criterion. At the same time, I show that recent developments in social choice theory are much more in line with the empirical results. This suggests that a better understanding of the complementarity between empirical and theoretical work might lead to a richer debate and to a greater awareness of the possible biases in the economic approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Schokkaert, 1998. "Mr. Fairmind Is Post-Welfarist: Opinions on Distributive Justice," Public Economics Working Paper Series ces9809, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpe:papers:ces9809

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
    3. Frank A. Cowell, 1985. "Measures of Distributional Change: An Axiomatic Approach," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 135-151.
    4. Behrman, Jere & Tarbman, Paul, 1985. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the United States: Some Estimates and a Test of Becker's Intergenerational Endowments Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 144-151, February.
    5. Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
    6. A. B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon, 1982. "The Comparison of Multi-Dimensioned Distributions of Economic Status," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 183-201.
    7. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-429, June.
    8. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1996. "More Equal but Less Mobile? Education Financing and Intergenerational Mobility in Italy and in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 1496, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Fleurbaey Marc, 1995. "Three Solutions for the Compensation Problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 505-521, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Corneo, Giacomo & Fong, Christina M., 2008. "What's the monetary value of distributive justice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 289-308, February.
    2. Erik Schokkaert & Kurt Devooght, 2003. "Responsibility-sensitive fair compensation in different cultures," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 21(2), pages 207-242, October.
    3. Gilles le Garrec, 2009. "Feeling guilty and redistributive politics," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2009-22, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    4. Gilles Le Garrec, 2011. "Redistribution and the cultural transmission of the taste for fairness," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2011-24, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).

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