The separability axiom and equal-sharing methods

Moulin, H. (1985) The separability axiom and equal-sharing methods. Journal of Economic Theory, 36(1), pp. 120-148. (doi: 10.1016/0022-0531(85)90082-1)

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A quasi-linear social choice problem is defined as selecting one (among finitely many) indivisible public decision and a vector of monetary transfers among agents to cover the cost of this decision. This decision is based upon individual preferences, which are assumed to be additively separable and linear in money. The Separability axiom is a consistency property for choice methods on societies with variable size: the decision is not affected if we remove an arbitrary agent under the condition that he be guaranteed his original utility level and the cost to the remaining agents is modified accordingly. Thus the utility level assigned by the social choice function to agent i is the price at which the other agents are unanimously willing to buy agent is share of the decision power. A general characterization of choice methods satisfying this axiom is provided. Three subclasses of particular interest are characterized by additional milder axioms. Those are: (i) equal sharing of the surplus left over some reference utility (e.g., the utility at a status quo decision), (ii) utilitarian methods that merely select the efficient public decision and perform no monetary transfers, and (iii) equal allocation of nonseparable costs, which divides equally the surplus left over from the utility derived from the pivotal mechanism (also known as the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves mechanism).

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moulin, Professor Herve
Authors: Moulin, H.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Journal Name:Journal of Economic Theory
ISSN (Online):1095-7235

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