Welfare comparisons when populations differ in size

Authors: Zabsonré, Agnès
Advisor: Duclos, Jean-Yves
Abstract: The main objective of this thesis is to make welfare comparisons involving different population sizes. This is relevant for two reasons. First, the evaluation of public policies often implies comparisons of situations where the number of individuals differs from one situation to another. Second, the theoretical foundations of social evaluation provide little measurement guidance on how changes in population size and population distribution can be socially evaluated. After a literature review on population problems and particularly questions related to population sizes and social well-being, and after discussing how variable populations are socially evaluated, we use critical-level generalized utilitarianism as a social evaluation function. This function exhibits ethically desirable foundations and is shown to be more convenient for comparing well-being between variable populations. But it requires a value of the critical level, a key parameter in this approach. We propose a dominance framework based on critical-level generalized utilitarianism. We show how this dominance is related to stochastic poverty dominance. This is presented in the first essay. In the second essay, we develop a theoretical, normative and statistical framework to estimate some robust lower and upper bounds of critical levels within which population distributions can be ordered. We illustrate our theoretical results by using real data from Canada’s household surveys. We extend the applications to national, regional and world scales. The results indicate that the value of humanity can be persuasively shown to have increased globally between 1990 and 2005, but not so for many of the world’s regions. This is done in the third essay.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2011
Open Access Date: 17 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/22528
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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