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Conspicuous Consumption and Overlapping Generations

  • Wendner, Ronald

This paper investigates household decisions, and optimal taxation in an overlapping generations model in which individual utility depends on a weighted average of consumption of ones peers --- a ``keeping up with the Joneses'' consumption externality. In contrast to representative agent economies, the consumption externality \emph{generally} affects steady state savings and growth rates. The nature of the externality's impact, however, critically depends on the rate at which labor productivity declines with age. For a (strongly enough) declining labor productivity (or when people gradually retire), the consumption externality \emph{lowers} the steady state propensity to consume out of total wealth. The opposite holds for a constant labor productivity. The market economy can be decentralized by a (reverse) unfunded social security system if the rate of labor productivity decline is high (low). In contrast to previous results, the \emph{optimal} steady state capital income tax is zero, in spite of the consumption externality.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 15527.

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Date of creation: 02 Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15527
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  4. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
  5. Kern, William S., 2001. "Classical Economic Man: was he Interested in Keeping Up with the Joneses?," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(03), pages 353-368, September.
  6. Andrew B. Abel, 1998. "Risk Premia and Term Premia in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 6683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andrés Erosa & Martin Gervais, 1998. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9812, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  8. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By force of habit: a consumption-based explanation of aggregate stock market behavior," Working Papers 94-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2006. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 129-146, June.
  10. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
  11. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  12. Calvo, Guillermo A & Obstfeld, Maurice, 1988. "Optimal Time-Consistent Fiscal Policy with Finite Lifetimes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 411-32, March.
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  16. Weil, Philippe, 1989. "Overlapping families of infinitely-lived agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 183-198, March.
  17. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Wendner, Ronald, 2008. "Finite Horizon, Externalities, and Growth," MPRA Paper 8248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Andrew B. Abel, 2005. "Optimal Taxation when Consumers Have Endogenous Benchmark Levels of Consumption," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 21-42.
  20. Scitovsky, Tibor, 1992. "The Joyless Economy: The Psychology of Human Satisfaction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195073478, March.
  21. Garriga, Carlos, 2006. "Overconsumption, reference groups, and equilibrium efficiency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 420-424, June.
  22. Bill Dupor & Wen-Fang Liu, 2003. "Jealousy and Equilibrium Overconsumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 423-428, March.
  23. Michael Rauscher, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, economic growth, and taxation," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 66(1), pages 35-42, February.
  24. Sara J. Solnick & David Hemenway, 2005. "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in Others?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 147-151, May.
  25. Mathieu-Bolh, Nathalie, 2006. "Optimal taxation and finite horizon," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 215-221, May.
  26. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
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