, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 675-692
Date: 25 Nov 2012

Inequality aversion and separability in social risk evaluation

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Abstract

This paper examines how to satisfy “independence of the utilities of the dead” (Blackorby et al. in Econometrica 63:1303–1320, 1995; Bommier and Zuber in Soc Choice Welf 31:415–434, 2008) in the class of “expected equally distributed equivalent” social orderings (Fleurbaey in J Polit Econ 118:649–680, 2010) and inquires into the possibility to keep some aversion to inequality in this context. It is shown that the social welfare function must either be utilitarian or take a special multiplicative form. The multiplicative form is compatible with any degree of inequality aversion, but only under some constraints on the range of individual utilities.

We would like to thank François Maniquet and a referee for helpful remarks and comments, as well as the audience at the 2012 SCW congress. This research has been supported by the Chair on Welfare Economics and Social Justice at the Institute for Global Studies (FMSH—Paris) and the Franco-Swedish Program on Economics and Philosophy (FMSH—Risksbankens Jubileumsfond).