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Incorporating concern for relative wealth into economic models

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  • Harold L. Cole
  • George J. Mailath
  • Andrew Postlewaite

Abstract

This article develops a simple model that captures a concern for relative standing, or status. This concern is instrumental, in the sense that individuals do not get utility directly from their relative standing, but, rather, the concern is induced because their relative standing affects their consumption of standard commodities. The article investigates the consequences of a concern for relative wealth in models in which individuals are making labor/leisure decisions. The analysis shows how individuals' decisions are affected by the aggregate income distribution and how the concern for relative wealth can generate behavior that can be interpreted as conspicuous consumption when wealth is not directly observable.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (1995)
Issue (Month): Sum ()
Pages: 12-21

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1995:i:sum:p:12-21:n:v.19no.3

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Related research

Keywords: Consumption (Economics) ; Wealth;

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  1. 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.
  2. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
  3. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-65, November.
  4. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-57, July.
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