An axiomatic approach to the measurement of envy

Kristof Bosmans, Emel Öztürk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We characterize a class of envy-as-inequity measures. There are three key axioms. Decomposability requires that overall envy is the sum of the envy within and between subgroups. The other two axioms deal with the two-individual setting and specify how the envy measure should react to simple changes in the individuals’ commodity bundles. The characterized class measures how much one individual envies another individual by the relative utility difference (using the envious’ utility function) between the bundle of the envied and the bundle of the envious, where the utility function that must be used to represent the ordinal preferences is the ‘ray’ utility function. The class measures overall envy by the sum of these (transformed) relative utility differences. We discuss our results in the light of previous contributions to envy measurement and multidimensional inequality measurement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-264
JournalSocial Choice and Welfare
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


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