The Non-Existence of Representative Agents

26 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2015 Last revised: 6 Feb 2024

See all articles by Matthew O. Jackson

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute

Leeat Yariv

Princeton University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 12, 2019

Abstract

We characterize environments having a representative agent: an agent whose preferences over aggregate alternatives correspond to a weighted average of the population's utilities for the disaggregated alternatives. The existence of a representative agent imposes strong restrictions on individual utility functions---requiring them to be linear in the allocation and additively separable in any parameter that characterizes agents' preferences (e.g., a risk aversion parameter, a discount factor, etc.).

Keywords: Representative Agents, Collective Decisions

JEL Classification: D72, D71, D03, D11, E24

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Matthew O. and Yariv, Leeat, The Non-Existence of Representative Agents (May 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2684776 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2684776

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Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Santa Fe Institute

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Leeat Yariv

Princeton University ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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