Social Welfare Function

… a core term used in Economic Analysis and Atlas102


Wikipedia (reference below) defines a social welfare function is a function that ranks social states (alternative complete descriptions of the society) as less desirable, more desirable, or indifferent for every possible pair of social states.

Wikipedia goes on to say:

“Inputs of the function include any variables considered to affect the economic welfare of a society. In using welfare measures of persons in the society as inputs, the social welfare function is individualistic in form. One use of a social welfare function is to represent prospective patterns of collective choice as to alternative social states. The social welfare function is analogous to the consumer theory of indifference-curve/budget constraint equilibrium for an individual, except that the social welfare function is a mapping of individual preferences or judgments of everyone in the society as to collective choices, which apply to all, whatever individual preferences are for (variable) constraints on factors of production. One point of a social welfare function is to determine how close the analogy is to an ordinal utility function for an individual with at least minimal restrictions suggested by welfare economics, including constraints on the amount of factors of production.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Labour Markets, Transfers, and Personal Taxes (core topic) in Economic Analysis and Atlas102 Economic Analysis.


Wikipedia, Social Welfare Function, at, accessed 19 May 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 19 May 2016.