The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Distributive Justice

  • Edmund S. Phelps
Reference work entry


Social justice is justice in all of the relationships occurring in society: the treatment of criminals, children and the elderly, domestic animals, rival countries, and so forth. Distributive justice is a narrower concept for which another name is economic justice. It is justice in the economic relationships within society: collaboration in production, trade in consumer goods, and the provision of collective goods. There is typically room for mutual gain from such exchange, especially voluntary exchange, and distributive justice is justice in the arrangements affecting the distribution (and thus generally the total production) of those individual gains among the participants in view of their respective efforts, opportunity costs, and contributions.

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edmund S. Phelps
    • 1
  1. 1.