Are the Joneses Making You Financially Vulnerable?
This note studies a model in which heterogeneous income agents get a utility boost only when their consumption catches up with the Joneses'. The resulting utility function is non-concave. In this setup, participation in a fair consumption lottery has the potential to make some agents ex-ante better off but more financially vulnerable. More income-diverse people join the lottery pool when the 'kick' from catching up increases. Worsening income inequality may increase the number of financially vulnerable people. The analysis sheds light on some aspects of the ongoing sub-prime mortgage crisis.
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- Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
- Roger Hartley & Lisa Farrell, 1998.
"Can Expected Utility Theory Explain Gambling?,"
Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001)
98/02, Department of Economics, Keele University.
- Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
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