Social welfare orderings for different subgroup utility scales

Anna B. Khmelnitskaya

This paper characterizes social welfare orderings for different scales of individual utility measurement in distinct population subgroups. Different combinations of ordinal, interval, ratio, and translation scales are studied. We consider situations when utility comparisons among subgroups of individuals by unit and/or zeropoint can or cannot be made, that is when subgroup scales are dependent or independent. We show that for combinations of independent subgroup scales, every corresponding social ordering is fully determined by the opinions of only one subgroup of individuals and is in accordance with the measurement scales of its members' utilities. We also investigate social orderings admissible given various combinations of arbitrary ratio scales that combine individual utilities from different subgroups.

June, 1999
Published in: 
Mathematical Social Sciences