IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v94y2004i4p1085-1107.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

Author

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
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0002828042002705
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
    2. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    3. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
    4. Simon P. Anderson & Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2002. "The Logit Equilibrium: A Perspective on Intuitive Behavioral Anomalies," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 69(1), pages 21-47, July.
    5. repec:adr:anecst:y:2001:i:63-64:p:15 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-1028, September.
    7. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    8. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
    9. Alexis Direr, 2001. "Interdependent Preferences and Aggregate Saving," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 63-64, pages 297-308.
    10. Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "The social basis of interdependent preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 779-800, May.
    11. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    12. Harbaugh, Richmond, 1996. "Falling behind the Joneses: relative consumption and the growth-savings paradox," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 297-304, December.
    13. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
    14. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    15. repec:adr:anecst:y:2001:i:63-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
    17. Simon P. Anderson & Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2002. "The Logit Equilibrium: A Perspective on Intuitive Behavioral Anomalies," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 69(1), pages 21-47, July.
    18. Cooper, Ben & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Funk, Peter, 2001. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 642-665, July.
    19. Krishna, Vijay, 2009. "Auction Theory," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 2, number 9780123745071, December.
    20. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
    21. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "On relative wealth effects and the optimality of growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 87-92, January.
    22. Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Theory of the Leisure Class," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1899.
    23. Eeckhout, Jan, 2000. "On the uniqueness of stable marriage matchings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 1-8, October.
    24. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Bernheim, B Douglas, 1996. "Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 349-373, June.
    25. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2003. "Ratio Orderings and Comparative Statics," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 91, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    26. Ireland, Norman J., 1994. "On limiting the market for status signals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 91-110, January.
    27. Ramos, Hector M. & Ollero, Jorge & Sordo, Miguel A., 2000. "A Sufficient Condition for Generalized Lorenz Order," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 286-292, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ed Hopkins, 2008. "Inequality, happiness and relative concerns: What actually is their relationship?," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 6(4), pages 351-372, December.
    2. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2012. "Redistribution and the notion of social status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 651-657.
    3. Daniel Samano, 2009. "Explaining Taxes at the Upper Tail of the Income Distribution: The Role of Utility Interdependence," Working Papers 2009-16, Banco de MĂ©xico.
    4. Bilancini, Ennio & D'Alessandro, Simone, 2012. "Long-run welfare under externalities in consumption, leisure, and production: A case for happy degrowth vs. unhappy growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 194-205.
    5. Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci & Aldo Rustichini, 2012. "Social Decision Theory: Choosing within and between Groups," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1591-1636.
    6. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2019. "Wage inequality, labor income taxes, and the notion of social status," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 13, pages 1-35.
    7. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
    8. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    9. Fisher, Walter H. & Hof, Franz X., 2005. "Status seeking in the small open economy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 209-232, June.
    10. Andrea Gallice & Edoardo Grillo, 2019. "A Model of Educational Investment, Social Concerns, and Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 121(4), pages 1620-1646, October.
    11. Perez Truglia, Ricardo Nicolas, 2007. "Conspicuous consumption in the land of Prince Charming," MPRA Paper 22009, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 Mar 2010.
    12. Walter H. Fisher, 2004. "Durable Consumption As A Status Good: A Study Of Neoclassical Cases," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 96, Society for Computational Economics.
    13. Duernecker, Georg, 2007. "Growth Effects of Consumption Jealousy in a Two-Sector Model," Economics Series 201, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    14. Komlos, John & Salamon, Peter, 2008. "The poverty of growth with interdependent utility functions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2242-2247, December.
    15. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Van Long, Ngo, 2011. "The relative income hypothesis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1489-1501, September.
    16. Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2004. "The Welfare State, Redistribution and the Economy, Reciprocal Altruism, Consumer Rivalry and Second Best," CESifo Working Paper Series 1234, CESifo.
    17. Omer Moav and & Zvika Neeman, 2012. "Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 933-956, September.
    18. Alessandro Balestrino, 2012. "Taxes, Status Goods, and Piracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3704, CESifo.
    19. Armin Falk & Markus Knell, "undated". "Choosing the Joneses On the Endogeneity of Reference Groups," IEW - Working Papers 053, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    20. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2012. "Envy and Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(3), pages 949-973, September.

    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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:4:p:1085-1107. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.