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Giffen Goods, the Survival Imperative, and the Irish Potato Culture

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  • Davies, John E

Abstract

This paper modifies the modern explanation of Giffen behavior by incorporating the classical emphasis on subsistence. Specifically, the calculated redirection of consumption priorities by those reduced to subsistence levels is embodied in the utility function and the biological necessity of consuming sufficient nutrition to support health is modeled as a subsistence constraint. This methodology is then applied to the potato culture that existed in Ireland prior to the 1845-48 famine. It is suggested that the evolution of this culture was shaped by subsistence-driven behavior similar to the behavior that underlies the Giffen effect. Copyright 1994 by University of Chicago Press.

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  • Davies, John E, 1994. "Giffen Goods, the Survival Imperative, and the Irish Potato Culture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 547-565, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:102:y:1994:i:3:p:547-65
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    1. Masuda, Etsusuke & Newman, Peter, 1981. "Gray and Giffen Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(364), pages 1011-1014, December.
    2. Charles van Marrewijk & Peter A. G. van Bergeijk, 1990. "Giffen Goods and the Subsistence Level," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 145-148, Spring.
    3. Boland, L A, 1977. "Giffen Goods, Market Prices and Testability," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(28), pages 72-85, June.
    4. George J. Stigler, 1947. "Notes on the History of the Giffen Paradox," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 152-152.
    5. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
    6. Dougan, William R, 1982. "Giffen Goods and the Law of Demand," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 809-815, August.
    7. Silberberg, Eugene & Walker, Donald A, 1984. "A Modern Analysis of Giffen's Paradox," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(3), pages 687-694, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Allgood, Sam, 2001. "Grade targets and teaching innovations," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 485-493, October.
    2. Di Vita, Giuseppe, 2001. "Are the outputs derived from secondary materials giffen goods?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 255-260, December.
    3. Yochanan Shachmurove & Janusz Szyrmer, 2011. "Sir Robert Giffen Meets Russia in Early 1990s," PIER Working Paper Archive 11-020, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.

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