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Fair utilitarianism

Abstract : Utilitarianism plays a central role in economics, but there is a gap between theory, where it is dominant, and applications, where monetary criteria are often used. For applications, a key difficulty for utilitarianism remains to define how utilities should be measured and compared across individuals. Drawing on Harsanyi’s approach (Harsanyi, 1955) involving choices in risky situations, we introduce a new normalization of utilities that is the only one ensuring that: 1) a transfer from a rich to a poor is welfare enhancing, and 2) populations with more risk averse people have lower welfare. We embed these requirements in a new characterization of utilitarianism and study some implications of this “fair utilitarianism” for risk sharing, collective risk aversion and the design of health policy.
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Journal articles
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03029885
Contributor : Caroline Bauer <>
Submitted on : Sunday, November 29, 2020 - 2:15:12 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:09:09 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-03029885, version 1

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Stéphane Zuber, Marc Fleurbaey. Fair utilitarianism. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, In press. ⟨halshs-03029885⟩

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