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The Economics of Justice as Fairness

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  • Abatemarco, Antonio
  • Stroffolini, Francesca

Abstract

In this paper we challenge the common interpretation of Rawls' Theory of Justice as Fairness by showing that this Theory, as outlined in the Restatement (Rawls 2001), goes well beyond the definition of a distributive value judgment, in such a way as to embrace efficiency issues as well. A simple model is discussed to support our interpretation of the Difference Principle, by which inequalities are shown to be permitted as far as they stimulate a greater effort in education in the population, and so economic growth. To our knowledge, this is the only possibility for the inequality to be `bought' by both the most-, and above all, the least-advantaged individual as suggested by the Difference Principle. Finally, by recalling the old tradition of universal ex-post efficiency (Hammond 1981), we show that a unique optimal social contract does not exist behind the veil of ignorance; more precisely, the sole set of potentially optimal social contracts can be identified a priori, and partial justice orderings derived accordingly.

Suggested Citation

  • Abatemarco, Antonio & Stroffolini, Francesca, 2017. "The Economics of Justice as Fairness," EconStor Preprints 176843, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:esprep:176843
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/176843/1/The%20Economics%20of%20Justice%20as%20Fairness%203Apr.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Rawls, 1974. "Reply to Alexander and Musgrave," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(4), pages 633-655.
    2. Marc Fleurbaey, 2010. "Assessing Risky Social Situations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 649-680, August.
    3. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1987. "Pareto efficient and optimal taxation and the new new welfare economics," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 991-1042 Elsevier.
    4. John E. Roemer & Alain Trannoy, 2016. "Equality of Opportunity: Theory and Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1288-1332, December.
    5. Mongin, Philippe, 2001. "The impartial observer theorem of social ethics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(02), pages 147-179, October.
    6. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434-434.
    7. Edmund S. Phelps, 1973. "Taxation of Wage Income for Economic Justice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 331-354.
    8. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    9. Richard Harris, 1978. "Ex-Post Efficiency and Resource Allocation Under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 427-436.
    10. Sidney S. Alexander, 1974. "Social Evaluation Through Notional Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(4), pages 597-624.
    11. Hammond, Peter J, 1981. "Ex-ante and Ex-post Welfare Optimality under Uncertainty," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 48(191), pages 235-250, August.
    12. Rubin Saposnik, 1981. "Rank-dominance in income distributions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 147-151, January.
    13. Ross M. Starr, 1973. "Optimal Production and Allocation under Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(1), pages 81-95.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jmurova, Aliona, 2017. "Pro-Poor Growth: Definition, Measurement and Policy Issues," MPRA Paper 85397, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    justice; Rawls; inequality; social contract;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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