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Keeping Up with the Neighbors: Social Interaction in a Market Economy

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  • Christian Ghiglino
  • Sanjeev Goyal

Abstract

We consider a world in which individuals have private endowments and trade in markets while their utility is negatively affected by the consumption of their neighbors. Our interest is in understanding how the social structure of comparisons, taken together with the familiar fundamentals of the economy (endowments, technology, and preferences), shapes equilibrium prices, allocations, and welfare. We show that equilibrium prices and consumption are a function of a single network statistic: centrality. An individual's "centrality" is given by the weighted sum of paths of different lengths to all others in a social network. In particular, prices are proportional to the sum of centralities, and an individual's consumption depends on how central she is relative to others in the network. Inequalities in wealth and connections reinforce each other in markets: A transfer of resources from less to more central agents raises prices. As segregated communities become integrated, the poor lose while the rich gain in utility! (JEL: D5, D6, D85) (c) 2010 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Ghiglino & Sanjeev Goyal, 2010. "Keeping Up with the Neighbors: Social Interaction in a Market Economy," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 90-119, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:8:y:2010:i:1:p:90-119
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cres, Herve & Ghiglino, Christian & Tvede, Mich, 1997. "Externalities, Internalization and Fluctuations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(2), pages 465-477, May.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    3. Sanjeev Goyal, 2007. "Introduction to Connections: An Introduction to the Economics of Networks," Introductory Chapters,in: Connections: An Introduction to the Economics of Networks Princeton University Press.
    4. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
    5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    6. Dilip Mookherjee & Stefan Napel & Debraj Ray, 2010. "Aspirations, Segregation, and Occupational Choice," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 139-168, March.
    7. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-1418, December.
    8. Christian Ghiglino & Sanjeev Goyal, 2010. "Keeping Up with the Neighbors: Social Interaction in a Market Economy," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 90-119, March.
    9. Tan, Hi-Lin, 2006. "Prices in Networks," MPRA Paper 62984, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D5 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation

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