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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. Jess Benhabib & Roger E.A. Farmer, 1992. "Indeterminacy and Increasing Returns," UCLA Economics Working Papers 646, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165, November.
  3. Guo, Jang-Ting & Lansing, Kevin J., 1998. "Indeterminacy and Stabilization Policy," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 481-490, October.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Sharon G. Harrison, 1996. "Chaos, sunspots, and automatic stabilizers," Staff Report 214, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. 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.
  6. David Bowman & Deborah Minehart & Matthew Rabin, 1994. "Loss aversion in a consumption/savings model," International Finance Discussion Papers 492, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Jaime Alonso-Carrera & Jordi Caballé & Xavier Raurich, 2004. "Consumption Externalities, Habit Formation and Equilibrium Efficiency," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(2), pages 231-251, 06.
  8. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
  9. 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.
  10. Falk, Armin & Knell, Markus, 2004. "Choosing the Joneses: Endogenous Goals and Reference Standards," CEPR Discussion Papers 4459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  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, June.
  12. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
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