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Positional Preferences: Efficiency and Distortions under Welfarist- and Paternalistic Governments

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  • Wendner, Ronald
  • Ghosh, Sugata

Abstract

This paper analyzes the distortionary effects of positional preferences when labor supply is exogenous under both a welfarist and a paternalistic government. Extending the prior literature, reference levels may be partially exogenous to the government (e.g., determined by consumption choices in a foreign country), and individuals may be positional with respect to wealth in addition to consumption. Neither consumption- nor consumption-cum-wealth positionality needs to cause inter-temporal distortions under either welfare criterion. We derive necessary and sufficient conditions for non-distortion of positional preferences. If those conditions are not satisfied, the same reference levels of consumption and wealth can give rise to under-saving or to over-saving -- depending on the extend to which the reference levels are exogenous to the government. Moreover, we provide conditions for which positional preferences for wealth and consumption imply over-consumption with respect to the welfarist criterion but, at the same time, over-saving with respect to the paternalistic criterion.

Suggested Citation

  • Wendner, Ronald & Ghosh, Sugata, 2017. "Positional Preferences: Efficiency and Distortions under Welfarist- and Paternalistic Governments," MPRA Paper 77839, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:77839
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Status; keeping up with the Joneses; positional preferences; distortion; welfarist government; paternalistic government; Ak model;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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