Abram Bergson

Abram BergsonAbram Bergson (1914-2003) was an American economist that worked for many governmental and federal agencies including the Russian Economic subdivision of the Office of Strategic Services. He was also a professor at Columbia University, Texas and Harvard. His main area of research was welfare economics but he also provided a lot of research and studies of the Soviet Union economy, marked by a combination of encyclopaedic knowledge of Soviet statistics, theoretical analysis and immense industry knowledge.

Concerning welfare economics, in Bergson’s famous paper “A Reformulation of Certain Aspects of Welfare Economics”, 1938, he defined and discussed the concept of an individualistic social welfare function. This function enables the necessary conditions for an economic optimum to be calculated without the assumption of cardinal utility. Furthermore, the function is used as a way to prioritise and establish an order of preference between different situations that meet the requirements of Vilfredo Pareto for social optima. Bergson postulated the need to explicitly accept judgments of value as a way to develop indifference functions. This concept was subsequently utilised and developed by Paul Samuelson and became an integral part of the welfare economics literature.