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Envy And Inequality


  • Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado


  • Ngo Van Long



We present an overlapping generations economy populated by heterogeneous agents who care about their consumption relative to others and the bequest they leave to their offspring. In the presence of positional concerns individual saving and bequest rates vary across the income distribution. This dispersion in the rates of asset accumulation is the main channel for envy to impact the degree of intra-generational wealth inequality and its inter-generational transmission. Our results suggest that concerns for relative consumption might be an important explanatory factor for the surprisingly low levels of assets held by low-income households and the high concentration of bequests in the upper tail of the wealth distribution.

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  • Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2009. "Envy And Inequality," Departmental Working Papers 2009-03, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcl:mclwop:2009-03

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    Cited by:

    1. Benchekroun, Hassan & Long, Ngo Van, 2016. "Status concern and the exploitation of common pool renewable resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 70-82.
    2. Ronald Wendner, 2014. "Ramsey, Pigou, Heterogeneous Agents, and Nonatmospheric Consumption Externalities," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(3), pages 491-521, June.
    3. Van Long, Ngo & McWhinnie, Stephanie F., 2012. "The tragedy of the commons in a fishery when relative performance matters," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 140-154.
    4. Allen, Jeffrey & Chakraborty, Shankha, 2015. "Aspirations, Health and the Cost of Inequality," MPRA Paper 64087, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & El-Attar, Mayssun, 2012. "Income Inequality and Saving," IZA Discussion Papers 7083, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Eckerstorfer, Paul & Wendner, Ronald, 2013. "Asymmetric and non-atmospheric consumption externalities, and efficient consumption taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 42-56.
    7. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Jose Maria Casado & Jose Maria Labeaga, 2016. "Envy and Habits: Panel Data Estimates of Interdependent Preferences," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(4), pages 443-469, August.
    8. Tournemaine, Frederic & Tsoukis, Christopher, 2015. "The growth–distribution nexus in a mixed regime of education with a status motive: On the macroeconomics of the welfare state," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 235-243.
    9. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2015. "Keeping up with the Joneses, the Smiths and the Tanakas: On international tax coordination and social comparisons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 71-86.
    10. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Japaridze, Irakli, 2017. "Trickle-down consumption, financial deregulation, inequality, and indebtedness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-26.
    11. Facchini, Francois & Couvreur, Stéphane, 2015. "Inequality: The original economic sin of capitalism? An Evaluation of Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the twenty-first century"," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 281-287.
    12. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2014. "Positional preferences in time and space: Optimal income taxation with dynamic social comparisons," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 1-23.
    13. repec:eee:dyncon:v:86:y:2018:i:c:p:144-164 is not listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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