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Samuelsonian Economics and the Twenty-First Century$
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Michael Szenberg, Lall Ramrattan, and Aron A. Gottesman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298839

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298839.001.0001

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Samuelson's “Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Jekyll” Problem: A Difficulty in the Concept of the Consumer

Samuelson's “Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Jekyll” Problem: A Difficulty in the Concept of the Consumer

Chapter:
(p.116) 7 Samuelson's “Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Jekyll” Problem: A Difficulty in the Concept of the Consumer
Source:
Samuelsonian Economics and the Twenty-First Century
Author(s):

Robert A. Pollak

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298839.003.0008

This chapter describes a rich number of cases in which Samuelson distinguishes between the individual and the family as the consuming agent. The idea that the family demand function can be consistent with axioms of revealed preference is rendered difficult to achieve. Part of the problem involves giving a spouse rather than the family or household a utility function. Then the problem arises as to how the individual demand function is aggregated for the family. On the theoretical side, the chapter considers a Bergson–Samuelson type of social welfare utility function, with implications for Arrow's impossibility theorem. On the application side, the chapter features Becker's ‘rotten kid’ model problem, holding out the possibility of a solution with a family member as a possible dictator.

Keywords:   revealed preference, utility function, Bergson–Samuelson social welfare function, consensus model, social indifference curves, Arrow's impossibility theorem

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