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Foundations of Intrinsic Habit Formation

We provide theoretical foundations for several common (nested) representations of intrinsic linear habit formation. These representations are dynamically consistent and additive, with geometrically decaying coefficients of habit formation. Our axiomatization introduces a revealed preference theory of weaning a decision-maker from her habits using the device of compensation. We characterize linear habit formation in terms of the ability to wean using uniquely determined compensating streams. Moreover, we distinguish between habits that are responsive to weaning and those that are persistent, develop a simple choice-theoretic measure of the rate of habit decay, and demonstrate how to recover the entire sequence of habit formation coefficients from observed choice behavior. We introduce novel monotonicity and separability axioms that are appropriate for time-nonseparable preferences. Our analysis suggests techniques for eliciting dynamic reference points from choice behavior and obtaining discounted utility representations on endogenously generated auxiliary spaces.

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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1642.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Econometrica, 2010
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1642
Contact details of provider: Postal: Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
Phone: (203) 432-3702
Fax: (203) 432-6167
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Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

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  1. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  2. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Uribe, Martin, 2002. "The price-consumption puzzle of currency pegs," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 533-569, April.
  4. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D.M. Fisher, 1997. "Habit persistence and asset returns in an exchange economy," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. David K. Backus & Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2005. "Exotic Preferences for Macroeconomists," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 319-414 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Xiaohong Chen & Sydney C. Ludvigson, 2004. "Land of Addicts? An Empirical Investigation of Habit-Based Asset Pricing Behavior," NBER Working Papers 10503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Shalev, Jonathan, 1997. "Loss aversion in a multi-period model," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 203-226, June.
  9. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P. A., 2002. "Dynamic specifications in optimizing trend-deviation macro models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(9-10), pages 1585-1611, August.
  10. William Neilson, 2006. "Axiomatic reference-dependence in behavior toward others and toward risk," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 681-692, 08.
  11. Iannaccone, Laurence R., 1986. "Addiction and satiation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 95-99.
  12. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "Multiple Addictions," Working Papers 2001-20, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  14. Wendner, Ronald, 2003. "Do habits raise consumption growth?," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 151-163, June.
  15. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1959. "Stationary Ordinal Utility and Impatience," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 81, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  16. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1995. "Saving and growth with habit formation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Shi, Shouyong & Epstein, Larry G, 1993. "Habits and Time Preference," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(1), pages 61-84, February.
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