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Preferences. Rationality in Economics u Behavioral Postulate: A decisionmaker always chooses its most preferred alternative from its set of available.

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Presentation on theme: "Preferences. Rationality in Economics u Behavioral Postulate: A decisionmaker always chooses its most preferred alternative from its set of available."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preferences

2 Rationality in Economics u Behavioral Postulate: A decisionmaker always chooses its most preferred alternative from its set of available alternatives. u So to model choice we must model decisionmakers preferences.

3 Indifference Curves u Take a bundle x. The set of all bundles equally preferred to x is the indifference curve containing x. u Indifference curve: locus of consumption bundles for which the consumer is indifferent. u Indifference curves cannot cross.

4 Indifference Curves x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 x x x x x x

5 Indifference Curves x2x2 x1x1 x All bundles in I 1 are strictly preferred to all in I 2. y z All bundles in I 2 are strictly preferred to all in I 3. I1I1 I2I2 I3I3

6 Slopes of Indifference Curves u When more of a commodity is always preferred, the commodity is a good. u If every commodity is a good then indifference curves are negatively sloped.

7 Slopes of Indifference Curves Better Worse Good 2 Good 1 Two goods a negatively sloped indifference curve.

8 Slopes of Indifference Curves u If less of a commodity is always preferred then the commodity is a bad.

9 Slopes of Indifference Curves Better Worse Good 2 Bad 1 One good and one bad a positively sloped indifference curve.

10 Slopes of Indifference Curves Worse Better Bad 2 Good 1

11 Slopes of Indifference Curves Bad 2 Worse Better Bad 1 Two bads a negatively sloped indifference curve.

12 Extreme Cases of Indifference Curves: Perfect Substitutes u If a consumer always regards units of commodities 1 and 2 as equivalent, then the commodities are perfect substitutes and only the total amount (when the substitution rate is 1) of the two commodities in bundles determines their preference rank-order. The consumer is willing to substitute one good for the other at a constant rate.

13 Extreme Cases of Indifference Curves: Perfect Substitutes x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x Slopes are constant at - 1. I2I2 I1I1 Bundles in I 2 all have a total of 15 units and are strictly preferred to all bundles in I 1, which have a total of only 8 units in them.

14 Extreme Cases of Indifference Curves: Perfect Complements u If a consumer always consumes commodities 1 and 2 in fixed proportion (e.g. one-to-one), then the commodities are perfect complements and only the number of pairs of units of the two commodities determines the preference rank-order of bundles.

15 Extreme Cases of Indifference Curves: Perfect Complements x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 I1I1 45 o Each of (5,5), (5,9) and (9,5) contains 5 pairs so each is equally preferred.

16 Extreme Cases of Indifference Curves: Perfect Complements x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 I2I2 I1I1 45 o Since each of (5,5), (5,9) and (9,5) contains 5 pairs, each is less preferred than the bundle (9,9) which contains 9 pairs.

17 Preferences Exhibiting Satiation u A bundle strictly preferred to any other is a satiation point or a bliss point. u What do indifference curves look like for preferences exhibiting satiation?

18 Indifference Curves Exhibiting Satiation x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 Satiation (bliss) point

19 Indifference Curves Exhibiting Satiation x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 Better Better Better Satiation (bliss) point

20 Indifference Curves Exhibiting Satiation x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 Better Better Better Satiation (bliss) point

21 Indifference Curves for Discrete Commodities u A commodity is infinitely divisible if it can be acquired in any quantity; e.g. water or cheese. u A commodity is discrete if it comes in unit lumps of 1, 2, 3, … and so on; e.g. aircraft, ships and refrigerators.

22 Indifference Curves for Discrete Commodities u Suppose commodity 2 is an infinitely divisible good (gasoline) while commodity 1 is a discrete good (aircraft). What do indifference curves look like?

23 Indifference Curves With a Discrete Good Gas- oline Aircraft Indifference curves are collections of discrete points.

24 Well-Behaved Preferences u A preference relation is well- behaved if it is –monotonic and convex. u Monotonicity: More of any commodity is always preferred (i.e. no satiation and every commodity is a good).

25 Well-Behaved Preferences u Convexity: Mixtures of bundles are (at least weakly) preferred to the bundles themselves. E.g., the mixture of the bundles x and y is at least as preferred as x or y.

26 Well-Behaved Preferences -- Convexity x2x2x2x2 y2y2y2y2 x 2 +y 2 2 x1x1x1x1 y1y1y1y1 x 1 +y 1 2 x y z = x+y 2 is strictly preferred to both x and y.

27 Well-Behaved Preferences -- Convexity x2x2x2x2 y2y2y2y2 x1x1x1x1 y1y1y1y1 x y z =(tx 1 +(1-t)y 1, tx 2 +(1-t)y 2 ) is preferred to x and y for all 0 < t < 1.

28 Non-Convex Preferences x2x2x2x2 y2y2y2y2 x1x1x1x1 y1y1y1y1 z Better The mixture z is less preferred than x or y.

29 More Non-Convex Preferences x2x2x2x2 y2y2y2y2 x1x1x1x1 y1y1y1y1 z Better The mixture z is less preferred than x or y.

30 Slopes of Indifference Curves u The slope of an indifference curve is its marginal rate-of-substitution (MRS). u How can a MRS be calculated?

31 Marginal Rate of Substitution x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 x MRS at x is the slope of the indifference curve at x

32 Marginal Rate of Substitution x2x2x2x2 x1x1x1x1 MRS at x is = dx 2 /dx 1 at x x 2 x 1 x

33 Marginal Rate of Substitution x2x2x2x2 x1x1 dx 2 dx 1 dx 2 = MRS dx 1 so, at x, MRS is the rate at which the consumer is only just willing to exchange commodity 2 for a small amount of commodity 1. x

34 MRS & Ind. Curve Properties Better Worse Good 2 Good 1 Two goods a negatively sloped indifference curve MRS < 0.

35 MRS & Ind. Curve Properties Better Worse Good 2 Bad 1 One good and one bad a positively sloped indifference curve MRS > 0.

36 MRS & Ind. Curve Properties Good 2 Good 1 MRS = - 5 MRS = MRS always increases with x 1 (becomes less negative) if and only if preferences are strictly convex.

37 MRS & Ind. Curve Properties u Interpretation: as the amount consumed of one good decreases more and more, an increasingly higher amount of the other is required in order to maintain the level of satisfaction. u Or: as the amount consumed of one good increases more and more, a smaller reduction in the consumption of the other is required in order to maintain the level of satisfaction.


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