- Series Information
- The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy
- List of Contributors
- Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Inequality and Poverty Measures
- Social Welfare Functions
- QALY-Based Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
- Fair Allocation
- Social Ordering Functions
- Multidimensional Indicators of Inequality and Poverty
- Happiness-Based Policy Analysis
- Preference-Based Views of Well-Being
- Mental State Approaches to Well-Being
- Objective Goods
- Subjective Well-Being in Psychology
- Subjective Well-Being in Economics
- Equivalent Income
- Extended Preferences
- SWB as a Measure of Individual Well-Being
- Does the Choice of Well-Being Measure Matter Empirically?
- Does Fairness Require a Multidimensional Approach?
- The Capability Approach and Well-Being Measurement for Public Policy
- Measuring Poverty: A Proposal
- Multidimensional Poverty Indices: A Critical Assessment
- Social Evaluation under Risk and Uncertainty
- Individual Responsibility and Equality of Opportunity
- Welfare Comparisons with Heterogeneous Prices, Consumption, and Preferences
- Welfare and the Household
- Preference Inconsistency: A Psychological Perspective
- Lifetime Well-Being
- The Well-Being of Future Generations
- Author Index
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter provides an introduction to the use of social welfare functions in welfare economics and social choice theory for the comparative evaluation of social alternatives. With a social welfare function, social preferences depend on individual well-beings. These well-beings are expressed in terms of either preferences or utilities. Three main approaches are considered: Bergson-Samuelson social welfare functions, Arrovian social welfare functions, and Sen’s social welfare functionals. How the measurability and comparability of utility can be modeled and how limitations on the types of utility comparisons that are possible restrict the kinds of social welfare functions that can be considered is also discussed. Extensive social choice theory is used to deal with heterogeneous opinions about how to make utility comparisons.
Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Economics, Vanderbilt University
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