Behavioral fair social choice

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Working paper
Marc Fleurbaey and Erik Schokkaert
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Behavioral economics has shaken the view that individuals have well-defined, consistent and stable preferences. This raises a challenge for welfare economics, which takes as a key postulate that individual preferences should be respected. We agree with Bernheim (2009) and Bernheim and Rangel (2009) that behavioral economics is compatible with consistency of partial preferences and that subjective welfare measures do not offer an attractive way out of the impasse. However, their analysis which rests on traditional concepts like Pareto optimality and compensation tests, is not adequate to introduce distributional considerations. We explore how partial preferences can be introduced in the recent theory of welfare that has developed from the theory of fair allocation. We revisit the key results of that theory in a framework with partial preferences and show how one can derive partial orderings of individual and social situations.
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