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Distribution of Wealth and Interdependent Preferences


  • Grodner, Andrew

    () (East Carolina University)

  • Kniesner, Thomas J.

    () (Claremont Graduate University)


We examine the socially optimal wealth distribution in a two-person two-good model with heterogeneous workers and asymmetric social interactions where only one (social) individual derives positive or negative utility from the leisure of the other (non-social) individual. We show that the interdependence can effectively counter-act the need to transfer wealth to low-wage individuals and may require them to be poorer by all objective measures. We demonstrate that in the presence of social interactions it can be socially desirable to keep substantial wealth inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Grodner, Andrew & Kniesner, Thomas J., 2008. "Distribution of Wealth and Interdependent Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 3684, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3684

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Uri Possen & Pierre Pestieau & Steven Slutsky, 2002. "Randomization, revelation, and redistribution in a Lerner world," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 20(3), pages 539-553.
    2. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 235-260.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
    4. Brent Kreider, 2003. "Income Uncertainty and Optimal Redistribution," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 718-725, January.
    5. Andrew Grodner & Thomas J. Kniesner, 2006. "Social Interactions in Labor Supply," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(6), pages 1226-1248, December.
    6. Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Wealth Inequality and Intergenerational Links," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 743-768.
    7. Peter Kooreman & Lambert Schoonbeek, 2004. "Characterizing Pareto Improvements in an Interdependent Demand System," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(3), pages 427-443, August.
    8. Bernheim, B Douglas & Stark, Oded, 1988. "Altruism within the Family Reconsidered: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1034-1045, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Grodner, Andrew & Kniesner, Thomas J. & Bishop, John A., 2011. "Social Interactions in the Labor Market," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 6(4), pages 265-366, September.
    2. Jan Voelzke & Fabian Goessling, 2016. "Should We Like it? - A Social Welfare Based Quantification of Policy Attractiveness," CQE Working Papers 5716, Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster.

    More about this item


    social interactions; wealth inequality; earnings inequality; social welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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