We propose and axiomatically characterize a family of welfare criteria that prioritize individuals making larger sacrifices. By combining efficiency with a concern for equality of sacrifice, our criteria avoid serious shortcomings of utilitarianism. We illustrate our results within the Mirrleesian optimal taxation framework. Our simulated equal-sacrifice optimal tax schedule for the US has marginal tax rates in line with the US tax system and about 20 percentage points lower than the utilitarian recommendation.
equal-sacrifice principle optimal income taxation welfare criterion