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Comparing Consumption: A Curse or a Blessing?

  • Strulik, Holger

Does it make us unhappier when we compare our current consumption with that of the Joneses or our own past achievements? This paper tries an answer without recurring on interpersonal utility comparisons. It calibrates an economy under three different assumptions, non-comparing utility, and inward-looking and outward-looking habit formation. Using consumption equivalents it then calculates how much individual welfare is affected in each economy by unexpected losses and gains of wealth.

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File URL: http://diskussionspapiere.wiwi.uni-hannover.de/pdf_bib/dp-382.pdf
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Paper provided by Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät in its series Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) with number dp-382.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:han:dpaper:dp-382
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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  3. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 124(2), pages 191-231.
  4. Andrew B. Abel, . "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation and Catching Up With the Jones," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 1-90, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  5. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  6. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1997. "Comparison Utility in a Growth Model," NBER Working Papers 6138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Goncalo Monteiro & Stephen Turnovsky, 2004. "Habit Formation, Catching Up with the Joneses, and Economic Growth," Working Papers UWEC-2004-09-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2004.
  8. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  9. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  10. Brunner, Martin & Strulik, Holger, 2002. "Solution of perfect foresight saddlepoint problems: a simple method and applications," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 737-753, May.
  11. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  12. Alonso-Carrera, Jaime & Caballe, Jordi & Raurich, Xavier, 2005. "Growth, habit formation, and catching-up with the Joneses," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1665-1691, August.
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