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Interpersonal Comparisons Of Well-Being

Author

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  • Blackorby, Charles

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick and GREQAM)

  • Bossert, Walter

    (D´epartement de Sciences Economiques and CIREQ, Universit´e deMontr´eal)

Abstract

This paper, which is to be published as a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Political Economy, provides an introduction to social-choice theory with interpersonal comparisons of well-being. We argue that the most promising route of escape from the negative conclusion of Arrow’s theorem is to use a richer informational environment than ordinal measurability and the absence of interpersonal comparability of well-being. We discuss welfarist social evaluation (which requires that the levels of individual well-being in two alternatives are the only determinants of their social ranking) and present characterizations of some important social-evaluation orderings. Journal of Economic Literature

Suggested Citation

  • Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter, 2004. "Interpersonal Comparisons Of Well-Being," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 711, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:711
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    File URL: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp711.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1999. "Harsanyi's social aggregation theorem for state-contingent alternatives1," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 365-387, November.
    2. BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 2006-15, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
      • BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 14-2006, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    3. Kevin W. S. Roberts, 1980. "Interpersonal Comparability and Social Choice Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 421-439.
    4. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1992. "Pigs and Guinea Pigs: A Note on the Ethics of Animal Exploitation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(415), pages 1345-1369, November.
    5. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1982. "Ratio-Scale and Translation-Scale Full Interpersonal Comparability without Domain Restrictions: Admissible Social-Evaluation Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 23(2), pages 249-268, June.
    6. Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 2005. "Multi-profile welfarism: A generalization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 24(2), pages 253-267, April.
    7. Hammond, Peter J, 1979. "Equity in Two Person Situations: Some Consequences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1127-1135, September.
    8. Mongin, Ph., 1991. "Harsanyi's aggregation theorem: multi-profile version and unsettled questions," CORE Discussion Papers 1991036, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    9. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A, 1984. "Social Choice with Interpersonal Utility Comparisons: A Diagrammatic Introduction," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(2), pages 327-356, June.
    10. Robert A. Pollak, 1971. "Additive Utility Functions and Linear Engel Curves," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(4), pages 401-414.
    11. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "On Weights and Measures: Informational Constraints in Social Welfare Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(7), pages 1539-1572, October.
    12. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. "Utilitarianism and the theory of justice," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare,in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 543-596 Elsevier.
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    14. Gevers, Louis, 1979. "On Interpersonal Comparability and Social Welfare Orderings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 75-89, January.
    15. Charles Blackorby & David Donaldson & Philippe Mongin, 2004. "Social Aggregation Without the Expected Utility Hypothesis," Working Papers hal-00242932, HAL.
    16. Deschamps, Robert & Gevers, Louis, 1978. "Leximin and utilitarian rules: A joint characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 143-163, April.
    17. Sen, Amartya, 1974. "Informational bases of alternative welfare approaches : Aggregation and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 387-403, November.
    18. Eric Maskin, 1978. "A Theorem on Utilitarianism," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(1), pages 93-96.
    19. 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 537-558, September.
    20. Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
    21. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    22. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sunil Kumar & Renuka Mahadevan, 2008. "Construction of An Adult Equivalence Index to Measure Intra-household Inequality and Poverty: Case Study," Discussion Papers Series 363, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    2. Wiebke Kuklys, 2004. "A Monetary Approach to Capability Measurement of the Disabled - Evidence from the UK," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-08, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    3. Vincenzo Atella & Jay Coggins & Federico Perali, 2005. "Aversion to inequality in Italy and its determinants," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 2(2), pages 117-144, January.
    4. Vincenzo Atella & Carlos Arias & Federico Perali & Raffaella Castagnini, 2003. "Estimation of the Sharing Rule Between Adults and Children and Related Equivalence Scales Within a Collective Consumption Framework," CEIS Research Paper 28, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
    5. Kuntal Banerjee, 2006. "On the Extension of the Utilitarian and Suppes–Sen Social Welfare Relations to Infinite Utility Streams," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 27(2), pages 327-339, October.
    6. Vincenzo Atella & Martina Menon & Federico Perali, 2003. "Estimation of Unit Values in Cross Sections without Quantity Information and Implications for Demand and Welfare Analysis," CEIS Research Paper 12, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
    7. Gordon Anderson, 2003. "Poverty in America 1970-1990: who did gain ground? An application of stochastic dominance criteria employing simultaneous inequality tests in a partial panel," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(6), pages 621-640.
    8. Joachim Merz & Thesia Garner & Timothy M. Smeeding & Jürgen Faik & David Johnson, 1994. "Two Scales, One Methodology - Expenditure Based Equivalence Scales for the United States and Germany," FFB-Discussionpaper 08, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)), LEUPHANA University Lüneburg.
    9. F. Pedrali, 2002. "Can PIGLOG Preferences Identify Equivalence Scales ?," THEMA Working Papers 2002-03, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Arrow’s theorem ; social choice with interpersonal utility comparisons ; welfarism;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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