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Measuring Social Welfare – An Introduction - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Measuring Social Welfare: An Introduction

Matthew D. Adler


The social welfare function (SWF) framework is a powerful tool for evaluating governmental policies in light of human well-being. The framework originates in theoretical welfare economics and is widely used in contemporary economic scholarship, although not (yet) in governmental practice. This book is intended to provide an accessible, yet reasonably rigorous overview of the SWF approach. The framework has three components: an interpersonally comparable measure of well-being, which functions to translate outcomes into lists (“vectors”) of well-being numbers, one for each person in the populati ... More

Keywords: social welfare function (SWF), well-being, cost-benefit analysis (CBA), policy evaluation, utilitarian, prioritarian, ethics, distributive justice

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190643027
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190643027.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Matthew D. Adler, author
Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy, and Public Policy, Duke Law School