The generalised Lorenz criterion is widely used for making welfare comparisons within and across countries on the basis of their income distributions. Experimental studies have challenged this way of proceeding by showing that the principle of transfers, which underlies the generalised Lorenz criterion, does not meet with widespread agreement among the public that theorists would have expected. We propose to substitute the non-deprivation quasi-ordering introduced by Chakravarty (1997) for the generalised Lorenz criterion. This criterion is less demanding than the generalised Lorenz criterion as it builds on a weaker version of the principle of transfers and it is therefore more likely to be accepted by the public. We use income data from the Luxembourg Income Study for 17 countries in order to contrast the generalised Lorenz and the non-deprivation criteria. Although the non-deprivation quasi-ordering is less decisive than the generalised Lorenz criterion, it is shown that the former approximates the latter surprisingly well.
The absence of deprivation as a measure of social well-being: an empirical investigation
14 January 2014