Resource allocation, affluence and deadweight loss when relative consumption matters
AbstractWe explore the link between affluence and well-being using a simple general equilibrium model with a pure Veblen good. Individuals derive utility from the pure Veblen good based solely on how much they consume relative to others. In equilibrium, consumption of the pure Veblen good is the same for everyone, so the Veblen good contributes nothing to utility. Hence, resources devoted to the Veblen good provide us with a measure of deadweight loss. We ask: Under what preference conditions does the proportion of productive capacity devoted to the pure Veblen good increase as an economy becomes more affluent? In a relatively general preference framework we derive a sufficient condition for which the Veblen good crowds out standard forms of consumption and leisure, resulting in an inverse relationship between affluence and utility. With additional structure on the model we are able to fully characterize the behavior of deadweight loss and utility as an economy becomes more affluent.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
Volume (Year): 91 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo
Relative consumption; Veblen good; Affluence; Deadweight loss;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
- D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
- I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2004.
"Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?,"
UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers
2004-14, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2005. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages F397-F412, November.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2003. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right," Department of Economics University of Siena 409, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
- Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Theory of the Leisure Class," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1899.
- David Neumark & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995.
"Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment,"
NBER Working Papers
5044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
- Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004.
"Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
- Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
- Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman & Peter Martinsson, 2007.
"Do You Enjoy Having More than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods,"
London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(296), pages 586-598, November.
- Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Working Papers in Economics 100, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
- Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004.
"Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being,"
NBER Working Papers
10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002, August.
- 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.
- Sen, Amartya, 1983. "Poor, Relatively Speaking," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 153-69, July.
- M. Ali Choudhary & Paul Levine & Peter McAdam & Peter Welz, 2012. "The happiness puzzle: analytical aspects of the Easterlin paradox," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(1), pages 27-42, January.
- Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001.
"Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA,"
The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS)
616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007.
"Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles,"
IZA Discussion Papers
2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
- Karen E. Dynan & Enrichetta Ravina, 2007. "Increasing Income Inequality, External Habits, and Self-Reported Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 226-231, May.
- Dixit, Avinash K, 1986. "Comparative Statics for Oligopoly," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 27(1), pages 107-22, February.
- B.Curtis Eaton & Mukesh Eswaran, 2009. "Well-being and Affluence in the Presence of a Veblen Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1088-1104, 07.
- Ori Heffetz, 2011. "A Test of Conspicuous Consumption: Visibility and Income Elasticities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1101-1117, November.
- Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
- Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
- Brekke, Kjell Arne & Howarth, Richard B. & Nyborg, Karine, 2003. "Status-seeking and material affluence: evaluating the Hirsch hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 29-39, April.
- Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- John F. Helliwell, 2002.
"How's Life? Combining Individual and National Variables to Explain Subjective Well-Being,"
NBER Working Papers
9065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
- Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh & John F. Helliwell, 2008. "Empathy and Emulation: Life Satisfaction and the Urban Geography of Comparison Groups," NBER Working Papers 14593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.