Muellbauer's Representative Consumer

W. M. Gorman

Edited by C. Blackorby and A. F. Shorrocks

in Separability and Aggregation

Published in print January 1996 | ISBN: 9780198285212
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596322 | DOI:
 Muellbauer's Representative Consumer

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The following paper has been constructed from handwritten notes, probably dating from 1976, which contain only an introduction, the beginning of a proof, and a conclusion; the proof of the main result is missing, although a straightforward application of the main result of Sect. 2 of ’More measures for fixed factors’ (Ch. 21) fills this gap. The problem of the representative consumer is one posed and solved by Muellbauer (1976), but it had already been addressed by Gorman in 1953, when it was conceived of in either of two equivalent ways: either the representative consumer replicates average demand with average total income or it replicates total demand with total income. Muellbauer suggested looking for a representative consumer, the proportional breakdown of whose consumption mirrors that of society as a whole, and who replicates the shares demanded, but not necessarily the levels; furthermore, he permitted the utility level of the representative agent to depend upon prices, as well as upon the incomes of all members of the society. Gorman follows the general lines of Muellbauer's treatment, showing that the solution he gets is not quite the general one, and that this has misled him into believing that his central result is not a direct generalization of that in Gorman (1953). He also discusses the ideas of the ’representative consumer’ underlying the two analyses.

Keywords: consumption; demand; Muellbauer; representative consumer; utility level

Chapter.  2200 words. 

Subjects: Microeconomics

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