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The history of the mainstream rejection of interdependent preferences

  • Drakopoulos, Stavros A.

The notion of interdependent preferences has a long history in economic thought. It can be found in the works of authors such as Hume, Rae, Genovesi, Smith, Marx and Mill among others. In the 20th century, the idea became more widespread mainly through the works of Veblen and Duesenberry. Recently, an increasing number of theorists are interested in issues like reference income, relative consumption and positional goods which are all based on the concept of interdependent preferences. However, such preferences were never part of the corpus of orthodox theory. For instance, although Pareto and Marshall were aware of their existence, they rejected their incorporation into economic theory. There were various reasons for this rejection. The structure of mainstream economic methodology might be one reason. Another reason had to do with the theoretical implications of adopting interdependent preferences. The paper discusses the main historical aspects of this idea in relation to the mainstream resistance to incorporate it in orthodox economic theory.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 23980.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23980
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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Brit Grosskopf, 2000. "Relative Payoffs and Happiness: An Experimental Study," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1263, Econometric Society.
  3. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  4. Robert H. Frank, 1984. "Interdependent Preferences and the Competitive Wage Structure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 510-520, Winter.
  5. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2008. "The Concept Of Comparison Income: An Historical Perspective," MPRA Paper 8713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Drakopoulos, S. A., 1997. "Origins and Development of the Trend Toward Value-Free Economics," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(02), pages 286-300, September.
  8. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  9. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2005. "The paradox of Happiness: towards an alternative explanation," MPRA Paper 6870, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Luigino Bruni, 2004. "The 'Happiness transformation problem' in the Cambridge tradition," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(3), pages 433-451.
  11. Michael McLure, 2009. "Pareto and Pigou on Ophelimity, Utility and Welfare: Implications for Public Finance," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 09-13, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
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