First published in 1979, this fourth part of Principles of Political Economy applies the tools of economic analysis to the distribution of income and property. Professor Meade considers the problems of making interpersonal comparisons of welfare and of distinguishing between the efficiency and distributional aspects of changes in social welfare. He analyses the possible criteria for redistribution as between rich and poor members of the same generation, as between present and future generations, and – in the context of demographic policies – as between the born and the unborn. Special attention is given to the social factors (such as assortative mating, differential fertility, and laws and customs relating to the inheritance of property) in explaining the persistence of economic inequalities, and to the various forms of economic policy which may be devised for the reduction of such inequalities. An extensive mathematical model of the dynamics of social welfare in a second-best economy is appended.
‘The content is austerely theoretical, being concerned with the application of economic analysis, but not with its relation to empirical evidence or with the testing of economic theories. The style is a model of lucidity and everything is planned with care.’ – New Society
1. The Objectives of Economic Policy 2. Interpersonal Comparisons of Welfare 3. The Distinction Between Efficiency and Welfare 4. The Objectives of Distributional Policies 5. Demographic Changes 6. Distribution over Time 7. Measurements and Patterns of Inequality 8. Competition and the Distribution of Income 9. The Intergenerational Transmission of Endowments 10. Assortative Mating and Social Mobility 11. The Accumulation and Inheritance of Property 12. Differential Fertility 13. A Catalogue of Redistributional Policies