CES - Discussion paper series DPS 98.09 pages:1-34
I survey the results of empirical research, showing that the opinions about distributive justice of the population at large are in sharp conflict with the assumptions of tradi-tional welfare economics. I focus on the results concerning welfarism and concerning the Pigou-Dalton transfer criterion. At the same time, I show that recent developments in social choice theory are much more in line with the empirical results. This suggests that a better understanding of the complementarity between empirical and theoretical work might lead to a richer debate and to a greater awareness of the possible biases in the economic approach.