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Equilibrium Social Hierarchies: A Non-Cooperative Ordinal Status Game


  • Haagsma Rein

    () (Wageningen University)

  • van Mouche Pierre

    () (Wageningen University)


We analyze a game in strategic form, where each player's payoff depends on his action and his social status, which is given by his rank in the actions distribution. Our focus is on the relation between the degree of heterogeneity among status-seeking players and the distribution of their Nash equilibrium actions. We find that if among players intrinsic concerns are sufficiently important relative to status concerns, individual equilibrium actions diverge, but if status concerns are relatively important, individual equilibrium actions are the same. Another key result of the analysis is that, in contrast to what is usually claimed, status seeking need not always be socially inefficient. If players are sufficiently heterogeneous, there exists a Nash equilibrium that is unique, separating, and Pareto efficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Haagsma Rein & van Mouche Pierre, 2010. "Equilibrium Social Hierarchies: A Non-Cooperative Ordinal Status Game," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-49, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejtec:v:10:y:2010:i:1:n:24

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2014. "Instrumental cardinal concerns for social status in two-sided matching with non-transferable utility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 174-189.
    2. Haagsma, Rein, 2018. "Income inequality and saving in a class society: The role of ordinal status," Economics Discussion Papers 2018-12, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Brown, Philip H. & Bulte, Erwin & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Positional spending and status seeking in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 139-149, September.

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