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Fair Utilitarianism†

Fair Utilitarianism† AbstractUtilitarianism plays a central role in economics, but there is a gap between theory, where utilitarianism is dominant, and applications, where monetary criteria are often used. For applications, a key difficulty is to define how utilities should be measured and compared. Drawing on Harsanyi’s (1955) approach, we introduce a new normalization of utilities ensuring that: (i) a transfer from a rich population to a poor population is welfare enhancing, and (ii) populations with more risk-averse people have lower welfare. We study some implications of this “fair utilitarianism” for risk sharing, collective risk aversion, and the design of health policy. (JEL D63, D81) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Economic Journal: Microeconomics American Economic Association

Fair Utilitarianism†

Fair Utilitarianism†

American Economic Journal: Microeconomics , Volume 13 (2) – May 1, 2021

Abstract

AbstractUtilitarianism plays a central role in economics, but there is a gap between theory, where utilitarianism is dominant, and applications, where monetary criteria are often used. For applications, a key difficulty is to define how utilities should be measured and compared. Drawing on Harsanyi’s (1955) approach, we introduce a new normalization of utilities ensuring that: (i) a transfer from a rich population to a poor population is welfare enhancing, and (ii) populations with more risk-averse people have lower welfare. We study some implications of this “fair utilitarianism” for risk sharing, collective risk aversion, and the design of health policy. (JEL D63, D81)

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Publisher
American Economic Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2021 © American Economic Association
ISSN
1945-7685
DOI
10.1257/mic.20170234
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractUtilitarianism plays a central role in economics, but there is a gap between theory, where utilitarianism is dominant, and applications, where monetary criteria are often used. For applications, a key difficulty is to define how utilities should be measured and compared. Drawing on Harsanyi’s (1955) approach, we introduce a new normalization of utilities ensuring that: (i) a transfer from a rich population to a poor population is welfare enhancing, and (ii) populations with more risk-averse people have lower welfare. We study some implications of this “fair utilitarianism” for risk sharing, collective risk aversion, and the design of health policy. (JEL D63, D81)

Journal

American Economic Journal: MicroeconomicsAmerican Economic Association

Published: May 1, 2021

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