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Do social preferences matter in competitive markets?

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Author Info

  • Paul Heidhues

    (Department of Economics, University of Bonn)

  • Frank Riedel

    ()
    (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)

Abstract

Experimental evidence stresses the importance of so–called social preferences for understanding economic behavior. Social preferences are defined over the entire allocation in a given economic environment, and not just over one’s own consumption as is traditionally presumed. We study the implications for competitive market outcomes if agents have such preferences. First, we clarify under what conditions an agent behaves as if she was selfish—i.e. when her demand function is independent of others’ behavior. An agent behaves as if selfish if and only if her preferences can be represented by a utility function that is separable between her own utility and the allocation of goods for all other agents. Next, we study equilibrium outcomes in economies where individual agents behave as if selfish. We show that one can identify a corresponding ego–economy such that the equilibria of the ego–economy coincide with the equilibria of the original economy. As a consequence, competitive equilibria exist and they are material efficient. In general, however, the First Welfare Theorem fails. We introduce the class of Bergsonian social utility functions, which are social utility functions that are completely separable in all agents’ material utility. For such social preferences, the Second Welfare Theorem holds under a suitable growth condition. We also establish that in uncertain environments, agents with social preferences typically do not behave as if selfish. Furthermore, in the presence of public goods, both demand and equilibrium outcomes depend on social preferences.

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File URL: http://www.imw.uni-bielefeld.de/papers/files/imw-wp-392.pdf
File Function: First version, 2007
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics in its series Working Papers with number 392.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bie:wpaper:392

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  1. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  2. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  3. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Borglin, Anders, 1973. "Price characterization of stable allocations in exchange economies with externalities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(5), pages 483-494, October.
  6. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  7. Hochman, Harold M & Rodgers, James D, 1969. "Pareto Optimal Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 542-57, Part I Se.
  8. Collard, David, 1975. "Edgeworth's Propositions on Altruism," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 85(338), pages 355-60, June.
  9. Rader, Trout, 1980. "The second theorem of welfare economics when utilities are interdependent," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 420-424, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Jean-Marc Bonnisseau & Elena L. Del Mercato, 2008. "Externalities, consumption constraints and regular economies," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne b08011, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, revised Apr 2009.
  2. Martin Dufwenberg & Paul Heidhues & Georg Kirchsteiger & Frank Riedel & Joel Sobel, 2011. "Other-Regarding Preferences in General Equilibrium," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/149598, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Antoine Billot & Chantal Marlats, 2009. "Préferences psychologiques et nouvelle économie politique," PSE Working Papers halshs-00566146, HAL.
  4. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00566146 is not listed on IDEAS

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