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Popular support for egalitarian social welfare

Working Paper 2010-171


This paper provides a set of sufficient conditions under which the preferences of an egalitarian social decision-maker accord with majority voting. We show that an additive and concave utilitarian social evaluation function is consistent with the outcomes of majority voting if we restrict the class of income distributions to those that are symmetric under strictly increasing and concave transformations. A particular example is the lognormal distribution. We confirm that the required symmetry condition is generally accepted using an illustration for a panel of 116 countries. Moreover, the proposed methodology provides the inequality aversion parameter that is useful in practice and shows that median income is a good proxy for social welfare.

Authors: .

Keywords: majority voting; social welfare; symmetric distribution; inequality aversion parameter.
JEL: D31, D63, H30, P16.