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A Theory of Social Interactions

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  • Gary S. Becker

Abstract

This essay incorporates a general treatment of social interactions into the modern theory of consumer demand. Section 1 introduces the topic and explores some of the existing perspectives on social interactions and their importance in the basic structure of wants. In Section 2, various characteristics of different persons are assumed to affect the utility functions of some persons, and the behavioral implications are systematically explored. Section 3 develops further implications and applications in the context of analyzing intra-family relations, charitable behavior, merit goods and multi-persons interactions, and envy and hatred. The variety and significance of these applications is persuasive testimony not only to the importance of social interactions, but also to the feasibility of incorporating them into a rigorous analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0042
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
    3. Paul A. Samuelson, 1956. "Social Indifference Curves," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-22.
    4. De Tray, Dennis N, 1973. "Child Quality and the Demand for Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages 70-95, Part II, .
    5. Ehrlich, Isaac & Becker, Gary S, 1972. "Market Insurance, Self-Insurance, and Self-Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(4), pages 623-648, July-Aug..
    6. Schwartz, Robert A, 1970. "Personal Philanthropic Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(6), pages 1264-1291, Nov.-Dec..
    7. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 11-26, Part II, .
    8. Peltzman, Sam, 1973. "The Effect of Government Subsidies-in-Kind on Private Expenditures: The Case of Higher Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-27, Jan.-Feb..
    9. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
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