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Keeping up with the Joneses, reference dependence, and equilibrium indeterminacy

  • Stracca, Livio
  • al-Nowaihi, Ali

This model extends the keeping up with the Joneses (KUJ) model to incorporate the notion that positional concerns in consumption are best modelled with a reference dependence specification of preferences, as postulated by Tversky and Kahneman (1991) in the context of riskless choice. In line with this specification, which has received substantial empirical support in the literature, we assume that the marginal returns on the own consumption are increasing below the aggregate per capita levels of consumption (which is the reference point in our model). The main conclusion of the paper is that in our KUJ model aggregate consumption may be subject to sunspot fluctuations and the equilibrium level of consumption is not uniquely pinned down. The paper also discusses the role that fiscal policy can play in order to undo the effect of consumption externalities on both the determinacy and the desirability of the equilibrium. JEL Classification: D11, H21

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0444.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20050444
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  1. Gali, J., 1992. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices," Papers 92-22, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  2. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
  3. Jang-Ting Guo & Kevin J. Lansing, 1997. "Indeterminacy and stabilization policy," Working Paper 9708, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  4. Falk, Armin & Knell, Markus, 2004. "Choosing the Joneses: Endogenous Goals and Reference Standards," IZA Discussion Papers 1152, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  6. Jess Benhabib & Roger E.A. Farmer, 1992. "Indeterminacy and Increasing Returns," UCLA Economics Working Papers 646, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballe & Xavier Raurich, 2001. "Consumption Externalities, Habit Formation, and Equilibrium Efficiency," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 499.01, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Sharon G. Harrison, 1996. "Chaos, sunspots, and automatic stabilizers," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Bowman, David & Minehart, Deborah & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Loss aversion in a consumption-savings model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 155-178, February.
  11. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1999. "Macroeconomics of Self-fulfilling Prophecies, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262062038, March.
  12. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
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