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Les préférences révélées et la formation de la théorie du consommateur


  • Philippe Mongin


[fre] L'occasion de ce travail est fournie par le cinquantenaire de deux articles célèbres, écrits par Houthakker et par Samuelson, auxquels la théorie néo-classique du consommateur doit en partie sa forme actuellement reçue. On situera l'apport des deux articles dans les deux problématiques suivantes : celle des « préférences révélées », conçue par Samuelson en 1938, et celle, qui remonte à Pareto en 1906, de l'« intégrabilité des fonctions de demande ». On s'efforcera de comprendre pourquoi la lancinante question de l'intégrabilité n'a trouvé de solution que grâce au détour tardif et peu naturel d'une théorie des « préférences révélées ». L'article propose en outre une interprétation nouvelle du travail de Samuelson, qui vise à le réhabiliter contre les objections méthodologiques des commentateurs. On conclut que la notion de « préférences révélées » présente un intérêt persistant pour la théorie contemporaine du consommateur. [eng] Revealed preference and the growth of consumer theory. . The occasion for this paper is provided by the 50th anniversary of two landmark papers due to Houthakker and Samuelson, respectively. Neo-classical consumer theory in its present form is much indebted to these articles. We discuss their contributions in terms of two groups of issues, i.e., revealed preference theory, as introduced by Samuelson in 1938, and the integrability of demand functions, a problem raised by Pareto in 1906. We aim at explaining why the vexed question of integrability was belatedly resolved through the unnatural detour of revealed preference theory. The paper also offers a novel interpretation of Samuelson, with a view of defending him against the commentators' methodological objections. We conclude that the notion of "revealed preference" is of persisting interest to today's consumer theorists.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Mongin, 2000. "Les préférences révélées et la formation de la théorie du consommateur," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 51(5), pages 1125-1152.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_2000_num_51_5_410576

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    Cited by:

    1. Akhabbar, Amanar, 2013. "Samuelson and the Non-Substitution Theorem: Some Methodological Remarks," MPRA Paper 61760, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Francesco GUALA, 2017. "Preferences: Neither Behavioural nor Mental," Departmental Working Papers 2017-05, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    3. Broussolle, Damien, 2005. "Internal consistency of choice, Sen and the spirit of revealed preferences: A behaviorist approach," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 605-620, October.

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