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Envy, leisure, and restrictions on working hours

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  • Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado

Abstract

We present a simple model of capital accumulation where agents care about their consumption relative to the consumption of other members of society, `envy,' In this context we quantify the extent of the distortions and welfare costs associated with envy. Under conservative estimates of envy we find that the implied welfare losses are substantial. We explore the implications of alternative policy arrangements designed to minimize the effects of the consumption externality. Our results suggest that if the optimal tax policy is not politically feasible, restrictions on working hours provide an alternative tool to induce a market outcome that resembles the efficient allocation achieved under a benevolent central planner.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1286-1310

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:40:y:2007:i:4:p:1286-1310

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  1. John Y. Campbell & John Cochrane, 1999. "Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 205-251, April.
  2. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  4. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2004. "Welfare Implications of the Interaction between Habits and Consumption Externalities," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 639.04, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  6. Jennifer Hunt, 1998. "Hours Reductions as Work-Sharing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 339-381.
  7. Alonso-Carrera, Jaime & Caballe, Jordi & Raurich, Xavier, 2005. "Growth, habit formation, and catching-up with the Joneses," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1665-1691, August.
  8. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1995. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," NBER Working Papers 4995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2006. "A Century of Work and Leisure," NBER Working Papers 12264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joseph Altonji, 1984. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Working Papers 562, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
  12. Liu, Wen-Fang & Turnovsky, Stephen J., 2005. "Consumption externalities, production externalities, and long-run macroeconomic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 1097-1129, June.
  13. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  14. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Goncalo Monteiro & Stephen Turnovsky, 2004. "Habit Formation, Catching Up with the Joneses, and Economic Growth," Working Papers UWEC-2004-09-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2004.
  15. Heckman, James J & Macurdy, Thomas E, 1980. "A Life Cycle Model of Female Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 47-74, January.
  16. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  17. Carroll, Christopher D & Overland, Jody & Weil, David N, 1997. " Comparison Utility in a Growth Model," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 339-67, December.
  18. Fisher, Walter H. & Hof, Franz X., 2000. "Relative Consumption and Endogenous Labour Supply in the Ramsey Model: Do Status-Conscious People Work Too Much?," Economics Series 85, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  19. van de Stadt, Huib & Kapteyn, Arie & van de Geer, Sara, 1985. "The Relativity of Utility: Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(2), pages 179-87, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Laszlo Goerke, 2013. "Relative Consumption and Tax Evasion," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201301, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  2. Simone Valente, 2009. "International status seeking, trade, and growth leadership," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 42(2), pages 554-589, May.
  3. Goerke, Laszlo, 2012. "Profit Sharing and Relative Consumption," IZA Discussion Papers 6925, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2008. "A Permanent Income Version of the Relative Income Hypothesis," CESifo Working Paper Series 2361, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Inga Hillesheim & Laszlo Goerke, 2013. "Relative Consumption, Working Time, and Trade Unions," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201310, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  6. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2008. "The Relative Income Hypothesis," CIRANO Working Papers 2008s-18, CIRANO.
  7. Koenig, Tobias & Wagener, Andreas, 2013. "Tax structure and government expenditures with tax equity concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 137-153.
  8. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Van Long, Ngo, 2011. "Relative consumption and renewable resource extraction under alternative property-rights regimes," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 1028-1053.
  9. Markus Knell, 2009. "The Work-and-Spend Cycle in a Globalized World," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(1), pages 491-498.
  10. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2008. "Relative Consumption and Resource Extraction," CIRANO Working Papers 2008s-27, CIRANO.
  11. Tobias Koenig & Andreas Wagener, 2010. "Tax Structure and Government Expenditures under Tax Equity Norms," CESifo Working Paper Series 3205, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Work Hours in Chinese Enterprises: Evidence From Matched Employer-Employee Data," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 10-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  13. Malakhov, Sergey, 2013. "Эффект Веблена, Предельная Полезность Денег И Денежная Иллюзия
    [Veblen effect, marginal utility of money, and money illusion]
    ," MPRA Paper 51014, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Goerke, Laszlo & Pannenberg, Markus, 2013. "Keeping up with the Joneses: Income Comparisons and Labour Supply," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80033, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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