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At the Origins of Engel Curves Estimation

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  • A. Chai
  • A. Moneta

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Abstract

This paper revisits Ernst Engel's (1857) original article in which he systematically investigated the relationship between consumption expenditure and income. While he is mainly remembered today for the discovery of Engel's law, we highlight how Engel addressed in a particular way the issue of the relation between statistical empirical analysis and economic theorizing. Inspired by an inductive methodology, Engel's method to inferempirical regularities made no a priori assumption on the estimated functional form and anticipates many aspects of current non-parametric regression methods. Furthermore, Engel devised a quasi-behavioral theory of consumption centered on the concept of wants to justify and explain his empirical results which he used to asses population living standards. Although incomplete, Engel's consumption theory tackles a much neglected issue in consumption theory: what accounts for the manner in which consumption patterns change as income rises.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2008-02.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2008-02

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Keywords: Length 16 pages;

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  1. Sen, Amartya, 1979. "The Welfare Basis of Real Income Comparisons: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-45, March.
  2. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
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Cited by:
  1. Barigozzi, Matteo & Alessi, Lucia & Capasso, Marco & Fagiolo, Giorgio, 2009. "The distribution of households consumption-expenditure budget shares," Working Paper Series, European Central Bank 1061, European Central Bank.
  2. Matteo Barigozzi & Lucia Alessi & Marco Capasso & Giorgio Fagiolo, 2008. "The Distribution of Consumption-Expenditure Budget Shares. Evidence from Italian Households," LEM Papers Series, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy 2008/18, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

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