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On the Utility Representation of Asymmetric Single-Peaked Preferences

  • Political Science


We introduce two natural types of asymmetric single-peaked preferences, which we name biased-above and biased-below, depending on whether the asymmetry (or preference-bias) favors alternatives above or below the peak. We define a rich family of utility functions, the generalized distance-metric utility functions, that can represent preferences biased-above or biased-below, besides accommodating any degree of asymmetry. We also identify restrictions on differentiable utility representations that guarantee the underlying preferences to be biased-above or below, and allow to compare degrees of asymmetry. Finally, we consider a specific application -agents preferences over government size- to illustrate the role of factors such as risk aversion and tax distortions in shaping asymmetric preferences.

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