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Retrospectives: The Origins of the Representative Agent

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  • James E. Hartley
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    Abstract

    This paper examines Alfred Marshall's invention of the representative firm. Marshall first used the representative firm in order to describe an industry supply curve for an industry with heterogeneous firms. Despite Marshall's limited use of the notion, the representative agent was extensively criticized as an ephemeral, useless construct that was unable to account for economic growth and that ignored important heterogeneities. The criticisms succeeded in banishing the representative agent from economics. These initial criticisms are also shown to apply to modern uses of the representative agent as well.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.10.2.169
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 10 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
    Pages: 169-177

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:10:y:1996:i:2:p:169-77

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.2.169
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    1. Thomas Mayer, 1998. "Indexed Bonds And Heterogeneous Agents," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(1), pages 77-84, 01.
    2. Alan P. Kirman, 1992. "Whom or What Does the Representative Individual Represent?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    3. Marshall, Alfred, 1920. "Industry and Trade," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, edition 3, number marshall1920.
    4. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    5. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
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    Cited by:
    1. Senbeta, Sisay, 2011. "How applicable are the new keynesian DSGE models to a typical low-income economy?," MPRA Paper 30931, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Herzberg, Frederik, 2010. "A representative individual from Arrovian aggregation of parametric individual utilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(6), pages 1115-1124, November.
    3. Alberto Jaramillo & Hermilson Velásquez & Javier Santiago Ortiz & Natalia Serna, 2003. "Aspectos teóricos y empíricos de la relación empresas bancos," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO CIEF, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT 003922, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT.
    4. Philipp Koellinger & Matthijs Loos & Patrick Groenen & A. Thurik & Fernando Rivadeneira & Frank Rooij & André Uitterlinden & Albert Hofman, 2010. "Genome-wide association studies in economics and entrepreneurship research: promises and limitations," Small Business Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-18, July.
    5. Hawkins, Raymond & Aoki, Masanao, 2008. "Macroeconomic Relaxation: Adjustment Processes of Hierarchical Economic Structures," Economics Discussion Papers 2008-35, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    6. Aoki, Masanao & Hawkins, Raymond J., 2010. "Non-self-averaging and the statistical mechanics of endogenous macroeconomic fluctuations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1543-1546, November.
    7. van Oosterhout, J. & Heugens, P.P.M.A.R., 2006. "Much Ado About Nothing: A conceptual critique of CSR," ERIM Report Series Research in Management, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasm ERS-2006-040-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    8. Oscar Andrés Espinosa Acuña & Paola Andrea Vaca González, 2012. "La Educación Como Motor De Desarrollo Integral: La Importancia Del Capital Humano En El Crecimiento Económico Y Social De Largo Plazo," ECONOGRAFOS - ESCUELA DE ECONOMÍA 009936, UN - RCE - CID.
    9. Becker, Robert & Zilcha, Itzhak, 1997. "Stationary Ramsey Equilibria under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 122-140, July.

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