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A note on redistributive fairness and economic reform

By Anna Rubinchik and Ruqu Wang


To understand reasons for possible failures of 'good' economic reforms, we consider an institution which is always successful in making the best public decision from the utilitarian perspective. We show it is bound to introduce inequality if costs of a reform are privately known: the losers can not be always compensated. Thus, if equity is a primary concern, then some reforms with positive aggregate net gain might not be undertaken. If the utilitarian welfare is the only guide for making public decisions, implementing a reform might require the ability to ignore the associated social costs of inequality.

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