Gift Equilibrium and the Liberal Distributive Social Contract: A Tentative Synthesis

  • Jean Mercier Ythier
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)


This article analyzes gifts of scarce resources motivated by altruistic feelings such as love for one’s children, or compassion for the poor. Such moral sentiments belong to the wide class of phenomena known in economic theory as externalities, that may be defined, negatively, as the relationships between economic agents that exert an influence on the allocation of scarce resources which is not conveyed by market prices. An externality is, in other words, a type of social relationship that exists alongside markets and interacts with their functioning.


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Copyright information

© International Economic Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Mercier Ythier
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Paris La SorbonneFrance

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