By S. K. Nath (auth.)
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Additional info for A Perspective of Welfare Economics
Externalities are among the important reasons why - according to some observer or policy-maker - the social valuation of an economic activity may be different from its private valuation. How man;y externalities are recognised, or how much importance is given to a particular externality - in a given real situation - of course depends on who is to be the judge regarding an externality. In the circumstances of today's industrial and agricultural technology, it is probable that a well-informed policy-maker may discover important externalities where the innocent individuals did not suspect an;y.
If the two trading partners are strikingly unequal in the level of their economic developments, then it is possible that free trade may prevent the poorer country from ever starting certain industries for which it would have competitive capacity one day provided they could be sheltered from foreign competition during their initial high cost stages. In other words, free trade may prevent some possible outward movements of the production possibilities frontier of a poor country over time. This is the important argument for protecting infant industries in the less developed countries.
He could have made this equivalent to the concept of a unique social optimum where allocation is both efficient and 'just': he was in a position to do this because in another part of the same work  he had assumed inter-personal comparability of utility and had also drawn some conclusions from the premise that aggregate social utility in any given period ought to be maximised. Nevertheless Pigou's ideal output is not the unique social optimum; it is instead rather like a Paretian optimum. There are many possible Pigovian ideal outputs for any economy in a given period; each output being associated with a different distribution of incomes, leisure and wealth.
A Perspective of Welfare Economics by S. K. Nath (auth.)