A Critique of Welfare Economics by I. M. D. Little

By I. M. D. Little

First released in 1950, this publication was once fascinated about the exposition, feedback, and appreciation of the idea of monetary welfare because it have been built to that date. Now reissued, Little has additional a brand new retrospective preface within which he assesses the contribution the ebook made within the mild of next literature within the region.

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Sample text

It may be objected that perhaps it might be possible to define a zero, and a unit, and that the necessary words might pass in ordinary usage. That is not impossible. People do not think of sweetness as measurable, but it is measured; and it is not impossible that people may come to say 'this tastes about ten degrees of THE A N A L Y S I S OF C O N S U M E R S ' B E H A V I O U R c 33 sweetness', and my sweetness intake from this meal has been twenty units'. Heat also was once a non-numerical concept, but has become numerical, and is spoken of quantitatively in ordinary language.

They could equally well be labelled nine, twenty, thirty. All that matters is the order. A higher contour, representing greater satisfaction, must have a higher number than a lower contour. That is all. Let us now imagine a world in which there are only two goods, X and F, and take some one consumer. As far as economic things are concerned his satisfaction as a consumer now only depends on the amounts of X and Y he can consume. The next step is to dra\v the contour lines on a graph, the two co-ordinates of w r hich represent amounts of X and Y.

In this case there is no telling from the diagram which of the two points E1 and E2 would be chosen. The significance of concavity is that no point within the area bounded by the concave part of the curve, and the price-income line (the shaded area in the diagram), would ever be chosen in any price-income situation: for inspection shows that in whatever direction a price line is drawn, it will always touch a higher curve outside such an area than it will in it. For the purposes of welfare economics there is no reason why one should not suppose that the curves are concave in places, so that certain combinations of goods are, as it were, taboo—and would never be chosen in any conceivable price-income situation.

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