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How Many Consumers are Rational?

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  • Stefan Hoderlein

    (Boston College)

Abstract

Rationality places strong restrictions on individual consumer behavior. This paper is concerned with assessing the validity of the integrability constraints imposed by standard utility maximization, arising in classical consumer demand analysis. More specifically, we characterize the testable implications of negative semidefiniteness and symmetry of the Slutsky matrix across a heterogeneous population without assuming anything on the functional form of individual preferences. In the same spirit, homogeneity of degree zero is being considered. Our approach employs nonseparable models and is centered around a conditional independence assumption, which is sufficiently general to allow for endogenous regressors. It is the only substantial assumption a researcher has to specify in this model, and has to be evaluated with particular care. Finally, we apply all concepts to British household data: We show that rationality is an acceptable description for large parts of the population, regardless of whether we test on single or composite households.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 748.

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Date of creation: 20 Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:748

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Keywords: Nonparametric; Integrability; Testing Rationality; Nonseparable Models; Demand; Nonparametric IV;

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  12. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  13. Hoderlein, Stefan & Klemelä, Jussi & Mammen, Enno, 2010. "Analyzing The Random Coefficient Model Nonparametrically," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(03), pages 804-837, June.
  14. John Quah, 2000. "Weak Axiomatic Demand Theory," Economics Series Working Papers 2000-W12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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  16. Haag, Berthold R. & Hoderlein, Stefan & Pendakur, Krishna, 2009. "Testing and imposing Slutsky symmetry in nonparametric demand systems," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 153(1), pages 33-50, November.
  17. Andrew Chesher, 2003. "Identification in Nonseparable Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1405-1441, 09.
  18. Guido W. Imbens & Whitney K. Newey, 2009. "Identification and Estimation of Triangular Simultaneous Equations Models Without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1481-1512, 09.
  19. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 1997. "A Test of the Unitary and Collective Models of Household Labour Supply," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 933-55, July.
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  21. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, September.
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