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Degrees of Unmet Needs in the Superfluous Income Criterion

O.P. Albino Barrera

Review of Social Economy, 1997, vol. 55, issue 4, 464-486

Abstract: The task of modern political economy is made more difficult by the confusion surrounding the ranking of competing claims in the social order. This paper is about situating particular interests within the broader claims of society. Using Catholic social thought's universal access principle, overlapping claims for economic resources are weighed according to the unmet needs of the contending parties in the following order of importance: (1) as constitutive for physical survival and basic health, (2) as determinative of life prospects, and (3) as life-enhancing. The finer specification of superfluous income into this threefold tpology opens the door to a more nuanced application of distributive justivce where norms grow stricter and the tolerance for inequality becomes much narrower as the strength of claims grows in proportion to the urgency of unmet needs. The contribution of this paper lies in its refinement of the concept of superflkuous income by distingushing varying degrees of unmet needs through a typology that provides terms of reference that are specified in their function, in their theological warrants and in the strength of their claims.

Keywords: Catholic social thought; superfluous income; universal access principle; unmet needs; distributive justice (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1997
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DOI: 10.1080/00346769700000018

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