Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Dynamic Model of Consumer Behavior
by McLaren, Craig Bernhard, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2012, 183; 3504080
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents a dynamic mathematical theory of consumer behavior, starting from basic assumptions, and building through the tatonnement processes by which exchange (general) equilibria can be achieved in real time.

The purpose of the dissertation is to revise consumer theory so that consumer behavior can be studied as a function of observable (demographic) variables instead of non-observable quantities such as preference. With the interpersonal comparison of preference no longer a barrier, general equilibrium models can be used to study the impact of the distribution of demographic factors, most notably wealth, on the demand for goods, and on aggregate well-being.

Chapters 2 and 3 discuss the problems with utility, preference, and their measurement as they appeared in the history of economic thought. Chapter 4 develops a theory of the consumer based on his or her marginal prices. The consumer's marginal price for a good is defined as the maximum s/he would be willing to pay for one more unit of it, given all the goods s/he possesses at the time. The consumer's complete set of marginal prices constitutes a vector function, requiring the theory to be built built using vector analysis.

The consumer is regarded as acquiring her wealth through many small decisions made over time. Since the bundle s/he holds at any given time is the result of past decisions, the consumer is modeled as dynamically interacting with his/her environment. A dynamic general equilibrium model in which an arbitrary number of traders exchange an arbitrary number of goods is presented in Chapter 5.

Chapter 6 develops a method of empirically aggregating consumer's marginal prices to determine how consumers in general would be expected to behave, given their socioeconomic circumstances. The behavior of a demographically diverse community is modeled in the general equilibrium framework, by assuming all consumers have common (aggregate) marginal price functions, yet are differentiated by the bundles they hold. Such bundles are the surrogate for their socioeconomic circumstances.

The theory presented in this dissertation is intended to facilitate incorporation of theories and data from Psychology, Sociology, and other social sciences, as well as those of experimental economics.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gaffney, Mason
Commitee: Chilcote, Ronald, Lippit, Victor
School: University of California, Riverside
Department: Economics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economic history, Economic theory
Keywords: Consumer, Demographic, Dynamic, Equilibrium, Inequality, Marginal prices
Publication Number: 3504080
ISBN: 978-1-267-27996-5
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