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The Non-Existence of Representative Agents

Author

Listed:
  • Jackson, Matthew O.
  • Yariv, Leeat

Abstract

We characterize environments in which there exists a representative agent: an agent who inherits the structure of preferences of the population that she represents. The existence of such a representative agent imposes strong restrictions on individual utility functions, requiring them to be linear in the allocation and additively separable in any parameter that characterizes agents' preferences (e.g., a risk aversion parameter, a discount factor, etc.). Commonly used classes of utility functions (exponentially discounted utility functions, CRRA or CARA utility functions, logarithmic functions, etc.) do not admit a representative agent.

Suggested Citation

  • Jackson, Matthew O. & Yariv, Leeat, 2018. "The Non-Existence of Representative Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 13397, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13397
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. P. A. Chiappori & I. Ekeland, 1999. "Aggregation and Market Demand: An Exterior Differential Calculus Viewpoint," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1435-1458, November.
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/6427 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Wagner, Alfred, 1891. "Marshall's Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 5, pages 319-338.
    4. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    5. Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro, 1881. "Mathematical Psychics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number edgeworth1881.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Collective Decisions; Preference Aggregation; Representative Agents; Revealed Preference;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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