B.M.S. Van Praag: The Relativity of the Welfare Concept

Siddiq Osmani

in The Quality of Life

Published in print March 1993 | ISBN: 9780198287971
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596704 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

  B.M.S. Van Praag: The Relativity of the Welfare Concept

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Osmani takes up a question which relates to a potential application of van Praag's approach: how well can individual utilities, as measure by van Praag, serve as the basis of social welfare evaluation? Osmani demonstrates that the concept of interpersonally comparable utility has an empirical basis by examining closely the concept of utility that emerges from van Praag's method of measurement. While accepting that van Praag's utility numbers have the property of interpersonal comparability, Osmani doubts that these numbers represent the concept of individual welfare that is relevant for building a social welfare function.

Keywords: individual utility; interpersonal comparability; measurability; social welfare function

Chapter.  3332 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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