Laissez-faire versus Pareto

Emel Öztürk, Kristof Bosmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Consider two principles for social evaluation. The first, “laissez-faire”, says that mean-preserving redistribution away from laissez-faire incomes should be regarded as a social worsening. This principle captures a key aspect of libertarian political philosophy. The second, weak Pareto, states that an increase in the disposable income of each individual should be regarded as a social improvement. We show that the combination of the two principles implies that total disposable income ought to be maximized. Strikingly, the relationship between disposable incomes and laissez-faire incomes must therefore be ignored, leaving little room for libertarian values.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Choice and Welfare
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 2021


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