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Comparing Consumption: A Curse or a Blessing?

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  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

Does it make us unhappier when we compare our current consumption with that of the Joneses or our own past achievements? This paper tries an answer without recurring on interpersonal utility comparisons. It calibrates an economy under three different assumptions, non-comparing utility, and inward-looking and outward-looking habit formation. Using consumption equivalents it then calculates how much individual welfare is affected in each economy by unexpected losses and gains of wealth.

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File URL: http://diskussionspapiere.wiwi.uni-hannover.de/pdf_bib/dp-382.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät in its series Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) with number dp-382.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:han:dpaper:dp-382

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Keywords: habit formation; happiness; welfare; economic growth;

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References

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  1. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  2. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Goncalo Monteiro & Stephen J. Turnovsky, 2004. "Habit Formation, Catching Up with the Joneses, and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 47-80, 03.
  3. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1995. "Saving and growth with habit formation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2003. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," CREMA Working Paper Series 2003-07, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  5. A. Abel, 2010. "Asset prices under habit formation and catching up with the Jones," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1395, David K. Levine.
  6. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  7. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  8. Christopher D Carroll & Jody Overland & David N Weil, 1997. "Comparison Utility in a Growth Model," Economics Working Paper Archive 387, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  9. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caball?Author-Email: jordi.caballe@uab.es & Xavier Raurich, . "Growth, Habit Formation, and Catching-up\ with the Joneses," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 497.01, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  10. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Brunner, Martin & Strulik, Holger, 2002. "Solution of perfect foresight saddlepoint problems: a simple method and applications," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 737-753, May.
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