Do irrelevant commodities matter?

Marc Fleurbaey, Koichi Tadenuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We study how to evaluate allocations independently of individual preferences over unavailable commodities. We prove impossibility results that suggest that such evaluations encounter serious difficulties. This is related to the well known problem of performing international comparisons of standard of living across countries with different consumption goods. We show how possibility results can be retrieved with restrictions on the domain of preferences, on the application of the independence axiom, or on the set of allocations to be ranked. Such restrictions appear more plausible when the objects of evaluation are allocations of composite commodities, characteristics, or human functionings rather than ordinary commodities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1143-1174
Number of pages32
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Characteristics
  • Consumer preferences
  • Functionings
  • Independence of irrelevant alternatives
  • Social choice


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