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Fair Division with Uncertain Needs and Tastes

L. Tesfatsion
Social Choice and Welfare
Vol. 2, No. 4 (1985), pp. 295-309
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41105814
Page Count: 15
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Fair Division with Uncertain Needs and Tastes
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Abstract

Previous studies have shown that egalitarianism maximizes expected social welfare in a contractarian original position with equally likely risk-averse agent tastes. The present paper characterizes agents by subsistence needs as well as by tastes, allows infinitely many possible need and taste profiles, and weakens the requirement that all possibilities be perceived as equally likely. Surplus-egalitarianism (meeting needs, then equally dividing the remainder) is shown to maximize expected social welfare when tastes are uncertain and needs are known, can be met, and are a priori required to be met; but intuitively unfair allocations may result if either of the latter two conditions fails to hold. Conditions under which egalitarianism maximizes expected social welfare with needs and tastes both uncertain are also determined.

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