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Appears in Collections:Economics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Responsibility utility and the difference between preference and desirance: implications for welfare evaluation
Author(s): Comerford, David A
Lades, Leonhard K
Issue Date: Feb-2022
Date Deposited: 24-Aug-2021
Citation: Comerford DA & Lades LK (2022) Responsibility utility and the difference between preference and desirance: implications for welfare evaluation. Social Choice and Welfare, 58 (2), pp. 201-224.
Abstract: Actions can provide “responsibility utility” when they signal the actors’ identities or values to others or to themselves. This paper considers a novel implication of this responsibility utility for welfare analysis: fully informed incentive-compatible choice data can give a biased measure of the utility delivered by exogenously determined outcomes. A person’s choice of a policy outcome may be informed by responsibility utility that would be strictly absent if that same person were a passive recipient of that same policy outcome. We introduce the term “desirance” to describe a rank ordering over exogenously determined outcomes and present evidence that desirance captures the welfare consequences of exogenously determined outcomes more accurately than preference. We review literatures showing that preference is sensitive to contextual variations that influence responsibility utility and show experimentally that responsibility utility can explain discrepancies between welfare estimates derived from choice data and subjective well-being data. We close by discussing subjective well-being as a potential measure of desirance.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s00355-021-01352-9
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
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