Social Status in Economic Theory


Social distinction or status is an important motivation of human behaviour. This paper provides a selective survey of recent advances in the economic analysis of the origins and consequences of social status concerns. First, a selection of empirical research from a variety of scientific disciplines is discussed to underpin the further theoretical analysis. I then consider the origins and determinants of tastes for status, discuss the endogenous derivation of such preferences for relative standing and assess the different formalizations of these preferences. Subsequently, the consequences of preferences for status are studied for a variety of problems and settings. The last section discusses a number of implications of status concerns for normative economics and public policy.

Journal of Economic Surveys, 24(1), 137-169
Lyna Sheremeta
Lyna Sheremeta
Professor of Public Economics