The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Welfare Economics and Giving for Development

Atkinson, Tony (2007) Welfare Economics and Giving for Development , Southampton, UK Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute 12pp. (S3RI Applications & Policy Working Papers, A07/10).

Record type: Monograph (Working Paper)


The economics of welfare is at the heart of economics, but in recent decades welfare economics has been relegated to the sidelines. While economists routinely make policy recommendations, or statements about economic success or failure, they often do so without apparent awareness of the ethical foundations for their conclusions. Yet, the foundations for welfare economics are far from solid. The standard formulation imposes severe constraints on the information that is taken into account when making evaluative judgments. The adoption of a welfarist social welfare function rules out any information other than individual welfare. In this paper, I consider the implications for welfare economics of one specific issue: individual giving for world development. While giving for development is modest in total amount, it is one of the few direct ways in which individuals reveal information relevant to the properties of the social welfare function to be applied to global redistribution. I begin by examining individual motives for giving, arguing that giving for the specific purpose of development cannot be adequately explained by the standard models of “warm glow” or “public goods”. An alternative is proposed, where people “frame” their giving in a way that gives meaning to their individual contribution. This alternative may well take a non-welfarist form. I go on to consider the implications for the social welfare function. What are the implications, if any, for the social welfare function of individual altruism towards people in poor countries? Finally, I address explicitly the geographical dimension, and the fact that the social welfare is a national social welfare function, which has to take into account the limited “sphere of control” of national governments.

PDF 50005-01.pdf - Author's Original
Download (181kB)

More information

Published date: 20 December 2007


Local EPrints ID: 50005
PURE UUID: a38611ae-839e-46d7-aa58-0397ad9b94be

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Jan 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:54

Export record

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.