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Does Consumer Irrationality Trump Consumer Sovereignty?

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  • Joel Waldfogel

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and NBER)

Abstract

Scholars working on the border of economics and psychology have documented many contexts in which individual decision-making is unreliable and might be improved by paternalistic interventions. Against this mounting body of negative evidence, economists' default belief in consumer sovereignty has been motivated primarily by theory rather than evidence. The goal of the present study is to see whether there is direct evidence supporting economists' faith in consumer sovereignty in a simple context. We address this question by presenting direct evidence that consumers' own purchases generate between 10% and 18% more value, per dollar spent, than items received as gifts. © 2005 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Waldfogel, 2005. "Does Consumer Irrationality Trump Consumer Sovereignty?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 691-696, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:87:y:2005:i:4:p:691-696
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Schubert & Andreas Chai, 2012. "Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Sovereignty," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-14, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    2. Basker, Emek, 2005. "'Twas four weeks before Christmas: Retail sales and the length of the Christmas shopping season," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 89(3), pages 317-322, December.
    3. Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Rajdeep Sengupta, 2011. "The effect of neighborhood contagion on mortgage selection," Working Papers 2011-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    4. Agarwal, Sumit & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Liu, Chunlin & Souleles, Nicholas S., 2005. "Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/32, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    5. Principe, Kristine E. & Eisenhauer, Joseph G., 2009. "Gift-giving and deadweight loss," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 215-220, March.
    6. Waknis, Parag & Gaikwad, Ajit, 2006. "The Deadweight Loss of Diwali," MPRA Paper 52883, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2011.
    7. repec:eee:rujoec:v:1:y:2015:i:1:p:81-107 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Parag Waknis & Ajit Gaikwad, 2017. "The Deadweight Loss of Diwali: A Developing Country Perspective on Economics of Gift Giving," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 37(1), pages 530-538.
    9. Laura Birg & Anna Goeddeke, 2016. "Christmas Economics—A Sleigh Ride," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1980-1984, October.
    10. Felső, Flóra Á & Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2014. "Broad and narrow bracketing in gift certificate spending," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 284-302.
    11. Kaplan, Todd R. & Ruffle, Bradley J., 2009. "In search of welfare-improving gifts," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 445-460, May.

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