By S. K. Nath (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Perspective of Welfare Economics
For a given society in a given period there is not one but a large number - indeed an infinite number if goods are assumed to be finely divisible - of such optima: each optimum having a different distribution of utility levels among the individual members of the society. The Paretian ethical judgement does not enable us to choose between any two Paretian optima; further, even if we accept the Paretian ethical judgement it does not follow that a Paretian optimum allocation of resources is better than any allocation which is Paretian non-optimal.
3, before the possibility of externalities was admitted, we noted that when a perfectly competitive economy is at equilibrium, then given certain strong assumptions and very special ethical judgements, the allocation of resources can be regarded as optimal in the Paretian sense. That proposition no longer holds, once externalities are recognised. If certain activities make a difference to the production or utility of some people in their own judgement, and yet the market system takes no account of this, then of course the market equilibrium is no longer optimal even in the Paretian sense.
PersonA consumes OM amount of X. It is assumed that A's consumption of X gives rise to an external diseconomy to B, the money value of this marginal dis economy being shown by the line KN. Hence the social marginal benefit of A's consumption of the good is less than its private marginal benefit; SS' is the social marginal benefit curve. Along the line GP the social and private marginal costs of A's consumption of X are assumed to be equal. If a tax of GH (which is equal to OK) per unit of X is imposed, A will reduce his consumption of X to OL, and at point R social marginal cost and social marginal benefit will be equal to each other.
A Perspective of Welfare Economics by S. K. Nath (auth.)