Equity: In Theory and Practice

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 1995 - Business & Economics - 238 pages
Governments and institutions, perhaps even more than markets, determine who gets what in our society. They make the crucial choices about who pays the taxes, who gets into college, which patients get medical care, who gets drafted, where the hazardous waste dump is sited, and how much we pay for public services. Debate about these issues inevitably centers on the question of whether the solution is "fair." In Equity: In Theory and Practice, H. Peyton Young offers a systematic explanation of what we mean by fairness in distributing public resources and burdens, and applies the theory to actual cases. Young begins by reviewing some of the major theories of social justice, showing that none of them explains how societies resolve distributive problems in practice. He then suggests an alternative approach to analyzing fairness in concrete situations: equity, he argues, does not boil down to a single formula, but represents a balance between competing principles of need, desert, and social utility. The case studies Young uses to illustrate his approach include the design of income tax schedules, priority schemes for allocating scarce medical resources, formulas for distributing political representation, and criteria for setting fees for public services. Each represents a unique blend of historical perspective, rigorous analysis, and an emphasis on practical solutions.
 

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About the author (1995)

H. Peyton Young is Professor of Economics at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the coauthor, with M. L. Balinski, of Fair Representation.

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