We present four decision rules for ranking income distributions based on specific restrictions on the form of the welfare function. These rules reflect different emphases on presumed preferences for both higher incomes and a more equitable distribution of income, ceteris paribus. Particular attention is paid to the occurrence of negative incomes, and we show how these can directly affect the ordinal rankings. The four decision rules are employed in a comparative analysis of farming incomes in England over the period 1983/84–1993/94. The outcome is a more complete ranking of income distributions than is possible using conventional measures. There is some evidence of an improvement in the welfare of the farming community over the period.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Agricultural Economics
|Published - Mar 1998