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Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status

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Listed:
  • Ed Hopkins
  • Tatiana Kornienko

Abstract

If individuals care about their status, defined as their rank in the distribution of consumption of one "positional" good, then the consumer's problem is strategic as her utility depends on the consumption choices of others. In the symmetric Nash equilibrium, each individual spends an inefficiently high amount on the status good. Using techniques from auction theory, we analyze the effects of exogenous changes in the distribution of income. In a richer society, almost all individuals spend more on conspicuous consumption, and individual utility is lower at each income level. In a more equal society, the poor are worse off.

Suggested Citation

  • Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:4:p:1085-1107
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828042002705
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities

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