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Utilité absolue ou utilité relative. Etat des lieux


  • Andrew E. Clark


[fre] Le principal postulat de la microéconomie est que l'individu rationnel maximise une fonction d'utilité absolue ; celle-ci, pour la plupart des sociologues et des psychologues, est trop simpliste. Dans cet article, on teste l'idée selon laquelle la fonction qui est maximisée est relative : une partie de l'utilité individuelle provient en effet des comparaisons (aux autres ou au passé). Les mesures de l'utilité, telles que la satisfaction dans le travail ou la satisfaction globale, permettent d'examiner le rapport entre le bien-être dont les individus font état et, d'une part, leur revenu, et, d'autre part, leur statut sur le marché de travail. Les résultats valident l'hypothèse d'utilité relative, qui remet en cause aussi bien l'analyse microéconomique traditionnelle que les politiques publiques qui en découlent. [eng] Is utility absolute or relative? Some recent findings. . One of the basic axioms of microeconomics is that individuals maximise a utility function defined over absolute levels of goods or income. Most sociologists or psychologists consider this to be too restrictive. In this paper, I summarise some recent research showing that utility is partly relative, depending on comparisons to others or to the individual's own past. Two relationships are modelled: that between job satisfaction and wages, and that between general subjective well-being and unemployment. The fact that strong comparison effects are found in both relationships calls into question both standard microeconomic models of behaviour which assume absolute utility functions and the economic policy recommendations which result from these models.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark, 2000. "Utilité absolue ou utilité relative. Etat des lieux," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 51(3), pages 459-471.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_2000_num_51_3_410528
    Note: DOI:10.3406/reco.2000.410528

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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia Senik, 2002. "When Information Dominates Comparison: A Panel Data Analysis Using Russian Subjective Data," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 495, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.

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