Making interpersonal comparisons of the value of income with a hypothetical auction

Abstract

Economic policy decisions require comparisons of the gains and losses from policy choices to different people. If those gains can be valued in monetary terms, than all that is needed is a comparison of the value of income to different persons, which can be weights in cost-benefit analysis. An objective comparison of the value of income to different people has been long sought but never found. I propose that when money to be allocated is controlled by a group of people with equal control over that money, then a hypothetical auction for transfers of income between people can produce a collective judgment about the value of income that provides suitable weights, and is morally defensible in cases where the decision is made by the group collectively, e.g. when making government policy choices. I provide a method for calculating such weights from observed choices about distributing income, and discuss several desirable properties that they have.

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References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
The View from Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Behaviorism 15 (1):73-82.
What is equality? Part 2: Equality of resources.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (4):283 - 345.

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