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The replacement principle in economies with indivisible goods

William Thomson

Social Choice and Welfare, 1997, vol. 15, issue 1, 57-66

Abstract: We consider the problem of allocating a list of indivisible goods and some amount of an infinitely divisible good among agents with equal rights on these resources, and investigate the implications of the following requirement on allocation rules: when the preferences of some of the agents change, all agents whose preferences are fixed should (weakly) gain, or they should all (weakly) lose. This condition is an application of a general principle of solidarity discussed in Thomson (1990b) under the name "replacement principle". We look for selections from the no-envy solution satisfying this property. We show that in the general case, when the number of objects is arbitrary, there is no such selection. However, in the one-object case (a single prize), up to Pareto-indifference, there is only one selection from the no-envy solution satisfying the property. Such a solution always selects an envy-free allocation at which the winner of the prize is indifferent between his bundle and the losers' common bundle.

Date: 1997-11-13
Note: Received: 15 May 1995 / Accepted: 5 June 1996
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Working Paper: The Replacement Principle in Economies with Indivisible Goods (1995)
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