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Incorporating concern for relative wealth into economic models

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  • Harold L. Cole
  • George J. Mailath
  • Andrew Postlewaite

Abstract

This article develops a simple model that captures a concern for relative standing, or status. This concern is instrumental, in the sense that individuals do not get utility directly from their relative standing, but, rather, the concern is induced because their relative standing affects their consumption of standard commodities. The article investigates the consequences of a concern for relative wealth in models in which individuals are making labor/leisure decisions. The analysis shows how individuals' decisions are affected by the aggregate income distribution and how the concern for relative wealth can generate behavior that can be interpreted as conspicuous consumption when wealth is not directly observable.

Suggested Citation

  • Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995. "Incorporating concern for relative wealth into economic models," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 12-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1995:i:sum:p:12-21:n:v.19no.3
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    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. 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.
    3. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-857, July.
    4. Zou, Heng-fu, 1994. "'The spirit of capitalism' and long-run growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 279-293, July.
    5. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-1365, November.
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    Keywords

    Consumption (Economics) ; Wealth;

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