SummaryThe analysis of welfare economics is built around the concept of Pareto efficiency. However, this efficiency criterion does not always represent a satisfactory answer. In order to solve this problem, and to find a new way to establish which allocation is best, economists have been since searching for new criteria to make a more informed decision. In this Learning Path we learn about some of these criteria.
The Samuelson criterion, sometimes referred to as the Samuelson condition, was raised by the economist Paul A. Samuelson in his paper “Evaluation of Real National Income”, 1950, and belongs to the theory of welfare economics and used as a condition for the efficient provision of public goods. This critique provides a way to avoid intransitivity problems: state X will be preferred to Y if the alternative of X, X’, is preferred to the alternative of Y, Y’.
This criterion however, brings some limitations, since it is very similar to Pareto optimality. Samuelson explains that previous compensation criteria, such as Kaldor’s, Hicks’ or Little’s, hold just because they consider partial redistribution.