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Working papers


Risks and optimal migration duration : The role of higher order risk attitudes

Siwar Khelifa, Working paper GATE 2020-29
Using a bivariate expected utility framework, we develop a two-period model where households determine, in the presence of risks, the parents’ migration duration when children are left behind. Our model suggests that the optimal migration duration may respond differently to an increase in a given risk. We provide conditions under which it is optimal for households to decrease the parents’ migration duration despite an income risk in the place of origin, and to increase it even though the income in the place of destination is risky. The idea of preference for "harm disaggregation" is used to explain the results. In the absence of uncertainty, we also show the role of the interaction between child human capital and wealth in the household’s utility function in determining the optimal migration duration of parents. Empirical implications of this analysis are presented in the last part of the paper.

Revisiting the history of welfare economics

Roger E. Backhouse, Antoinette Baujard, Tamotsu Nishizawa, Working paper GATE 2020-27
Our forthcoming book, Welfare Theory, Public Action and Ethical Values challenges the belief that, until modern welfare economics introduced issues such as justice, freedom and equality, economists adopted what Amartya Sen called “welfarism.” This is the belief that the welfare of society depends solely on the ordinal utilities of the individuals making up the society. Containing chapters on some of the leading twentieth-century economists, including Walras, Marshall, Pigou, Pareto, Samuelson, Musgrave, Hicks, Arrow, Coase and Sen, as well as lesser-known figures, including Ruskin, Hobson and contributors to the literature on capabilities, the book argues that, whatever their theoretical commitments, when economists have considered practical problems they have adopted a wider range of ethical values, attaching weight to equality, justice and freedom. Part 1 explains the concepts of welfarism and non-welfarism and explores ways in which economists have departed from welfarism when tackling practical problems and public policy. Part 2 explores the reasons for this. When moving away from abstract theories to consider practical problems it is often hard not to take an ethical position and economists have often been willing to do so. We conclude that economics needs to recognise this and to become more of a moral science.