The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Social Choice

  • Amartya Sen
Reference work entry


This article is a critical survey of the literature of social choice theory, first formalized by Kenneth Arrow in 1951. Social choice theory deals with the aggregation of some measure of individual welfare into a collective measure. It takes different forms according both to what is being aggregated (interests, judgements, and so on) and to the purpose of the aggregation. The methodology of social choice has greatly clarified a range of hitherto obscure problems.


Impossibility theorem Aggregation Arrow, K Arrow’s theorem Bentham, J Bergson, A Black, D Borda rule Borda, J.-C Chernoff condition Compensation tests Condorcet, Marquis de Envy Fairness Independence of irrelevant alternatives Interpersonal utility comparisons Liberty Majority rule Maximin Mill, J. S Pareto principle Positional rules Primary goods Rawls, J Revealed preference Rights Robbins, L Samuelson, P Single-peaked preferences Social choice Social welfare function Transitivity Voting paradoxes Welfare economics 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amartya Sen
    • 1
  1. 1.