By Amartya Sen
During this vintage textual content, first released in 1973, Amartya Sen relates the idea of welfare economics to the research of financial inequality. He provides a scientific therapy of the conceptual framework in addition to the sensible difficulties of dimension of inequality. In his masterful research, Sen assesses quite a few methods to measuring inequality and delineates the factors and results of financial disparities. Containing the 4 lectures from the unique variation in addition to a brand new creation, this undying learn is vital studying for economists, philosophers, and social scientists. In a considerable new annexe, Amartya Sen, together with James Foster, severely surveys the literature that the ebook of this e-book, and in addition evaluates the most analytical concerns within the appraisal of monetary inequality and poverty.
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Extra info for On Economic Inequality (Radcliffe Lectures)
To begin with, a relatively simple problem. 50 Consider two distributions between two persons with a given total amount of income, say, (0, 10) and (5, 5). If we choose a U(y) function such that it is proportional to y, both will have precisely the same Atkinson measure of inequality. However, it would seem to be rather absurd to describe the two as being equally unequal. We are confronting two distinct problems here. First, being 49 For an earlier use of the approach of ‘equally distributed equivalent income’, see Champernowne (1952), one of whose measures was ‘the proportion of total income that is absorbed in compensating for the loss of aggregate satisfaction due to inequality’ (p.
Thus xLy implies W(x) > W(y) irrespective of the precise concave utility function chosen, and if for all strictly concave utility functions W(x) > W(y), then xLy. Non-Additive Formulation The great attraction of Atkinson's result is that it permits us to rank the inequality levels of distributions in terms of the social welfare levels even without knowing the precise utility function to be chosen. However, since social welfare is taken to be of the utilitarian additive kind, the result may be thought 55 This is taken to mean that xLy if the Lorenz curve of x lies nowhere outside that of y and at some place (at least) it lies strictly inside the latter.
For the problem of inequality evaluation, the royal roads of welfare economics do look a triﬂe bleak. 33 Note that the conﬂict with utilitarianism would have arisen even if WEA had demanded only that the person with the uniformly lower welfare function should get no less income than the other. 2 Measures of Inequality In this chapter I shall discuss a number of measures of inequality that have been proposed in the literature. , positive measures which make no explicit use of any concept of social welfare, and normative measures which are based on an explicit formulation of social welfare and the loss incurred from unequal distribution.
On Economic Inequality (Radcliffe Lectures) by Amartya Sen