IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Envy and Inequality

  • Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado
  • Ngo Van Long

We present an overlapping generations economy populated by heterogeneous agents who care about their consumption relative to others and the bequest they leave to their offspring. In the presence of positional concerns individual saving and bequest rates vary across the income distribution. This dispersion in the rates of asset accumulation is the main channel for envy to impact the degree of intra-generational wealth inequality and its inter-generational transmission. Our results suggest that concerns for relative consumption might be an important explanatory factor for the surprisingly low levels of assets held by low-income households and the high concentration of bequests in the upper tail of the wealth distribution.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Scandinavian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 114 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 949-973

in new window

Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:949-973
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Liu, Wen-Fang & Turnovsky, Stephen J., 2005. "Consumption externalities, production externalities, and long-run macroeconomic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 1097-1129, June.
  2. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-67, June.
  3. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Precautionary Saving and Accidental Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 777-91, September.
  6. 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.
  7. Sexauer, Martin & Kleiber, Christian & Wälde, Klaus, 2005. "Bequests, taxation and the distribution of wealth in a general equilibrium model," W.E.P. - Würzburg Economic Papers 61, University of Würzburg, Chair for Monetary Policy and International Economics.
  8. Joseph Altonji & Ernesto Villanueva, 2003. "The marginal propensity to spend on adult children," Economics Working Papers 667, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  9. repec:cor:louvrp:-1117 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. 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.
  11. Arrondel, L. & Perelman, S. & Pestieau, P., . "The effect of bequest motives on the composition and distribution of assests in France. In T. Tachibanski (ed.)," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1117, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  12. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
  13. Andrew B. Abel, 2005. "Optimal Taxation when Consumers Have Endogenous Benchmark Levels of Consumption," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 21-42.
  14. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  15. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2007. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," NBER Working Papers 13392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Fisher, Walter H. & Heijdra, Ben J., 2007. "Keeping up with the Ageing Joneses," Economics Series 204, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  17. 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.
  18. Stephen J Turnovsky & Goncalo Monteiro, . "Consumption Externalities, Production Externalities and Efficient Capital Accumulation under Time Non-separable Preferences," Discussion Papers 05/08, Department of Economics, University of York.
  19. Ireland, Norman J., 1994. "On limiting the market for status signals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 91-110, January.
  20. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2005. "Estate Taxes, Consumption Externalities, and Altruism," Working Papers 232, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  21. 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.
  22. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
  23. Jordi Caballé & Ana I. Moro-Egido, 2008. "The Effect of Aspirations, Habits, and Social Security on the Distribution of Wealth," Working Papers 352, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  24. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  25. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  26. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  27. Curtis Eaton & Mukesh Eswaran, 2003. "The evolution of preferences and competition: a rationalization of Veblen's theory of invidious comparisons," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(4), pages 832-859, November.
  28. Davies, James B. & Shorrocks, Anthony F., 2000. "The distribution of wealth," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 605-675 Elsevier.
  29. Bill Dupor & Wen-Fang Liu, 2003. "Jealousy and Equilibrium Overconsumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 423-428, March.
  30. Moav, Omer & Neeman, Zvika, 2008. "Conspicuous Consumption, Human Capital and Poverty," CEPR Discussion Papers 6864, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:949-973. 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: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.