, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 1–21

Demography and welfare economics

  • Amartya K. Sen


The focusing on demographic issues as an important part of welfare-economic assessment shifts the evaluative space in the direction of public discussion and social concern. A commoditycentred view of individual success and social welfare is often used in economics. But the linkage between our economic wealth and our ability to live as we would like has strong limits. This is partly because of interpersonal variations between individuals, but also because of variations in public and social arrangements (for example, for public health care, education and social security). The use of demographic perspectives can enrich economic analysis in several ways. In particular a demographically oriented system of evaluation can not only focus on variables that we all value, but it also gives us the freedom to decide what weights would be most appropriate for the exercise in which we might be engaged. The problem of valuation in welfare economics is ultimately a social-choice issue, requiring the use of explicit judgments on which the society can achieve some consensus through political processes.

Key words

Welfare economics demography valuation inequality utility well-being 

JEL Codes

D63 I30 J10 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amartya K. Sen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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