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original papers : Investment and concern for relative position


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


Economists typically analyze individuals' market behavior in isolation from their nonmarket decisions. While this research strategy has generally been successful, it can lead to systematic errors when agents' nonmarket behavior affects their market choices. In this paper we analyze how individuals' investment behavior changes as a result of nonmarket behavior. Specifically, we analyze a model in which individuals must decide how to allocate their initial endowment between two random investments, where the returns are perfectly correlated across individuals for the first investment but independent across individuals for the second. We consider an environment in which men and women match, with wealthier individuals more successful in matching. We show how individuals' concern about relative wealth can affect their investment decisions, and we provide conditions under which individuals bias their investments either toward or away from the investment with correlated returns. A modification of the model is used to explain why agents' investments might exhibit a home country bias.

Suggested Citation

  • George J. Mailath & Harold L. Cole & Andrew Postlewaite, 2001. "original papers : Investment and concern for relative position," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 6(2), pages 241-261.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:reecde:v:6:y:2001:i:2:p:241-261

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. DeAngelo, Harry, 1981. "Competition and Unanimity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 18-27, March.
    2. Pencavel, John & Craig, Ben, 1994. "The Empirical Performance of Orthodox Models of the Firm: Conventional Firms and Worker Cooperatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 718-744, August.
    3. Craig, Ben & Pencavel, John, 1992. "The Behavior of Worker Cooperatives: The Plywood Companies of the Pacific Northwest," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1083-1105, December.
    4. Dow, Gregory K, 1993. "Why Capital Hires Labor: A Bargaining Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 118-134, March.
    5. Putterman Louis, 1993. "Ownership and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 243-263, June.
    6. Meade, James E, 1972. "The Theory of Labour-Managed Firms and of Profit Sharing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(325), pages 402-428, Supplemen.
    7. Sertel, Murat R., 1991. "Workers' enterprises in imperfect competition," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 698-710, December.
    8. Benham, Lee & Keefer, Philip, 1991. "Voting in Firms: The Role of Agenda Control, Size and Voter Homogeneity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(4), pages 706-719, October.
    9. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 1993. "The Revenge of Homo Economicus: Contested Exchange and the Revival of Political Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 83-102, Winter.
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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. Navarro, Lucas, 2011. "Efficiency of two sided investments in an equilibrium unemployment framework," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 1090-1098, May.
    3. DeMarzo, Peter & Kaniel, Ron & Kremer, Ilan, 2007. "Technological innovation and real investment booms and busts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 735-754, September.
    4. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:316-328 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2010. "Information Disclosure and Unraveling in Matching Markets," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 34-63, May.
    6. Dijk, Oege & Holmen, Martin & Kirchler, Michael, 2014. "Rank matters–The impact of social competition on portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 97-110.

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