Income Distribution, Price Elasticity and the 'Robinson Effect'
10 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2004
In "The Economics of Imperfect Competition", Joan Robinson argued that an increase of the consumers' incomes should make demand less elastic - which, although reasonable about individual demand as an assumption on preferences, suggests a role for income distribution as far as market demand is concerned. We use Esteban's (International Economic Review, Vol. 27 (1986), No. 2, pp. 439-444) income share elasticity to provide sufficient conditions on income distribution that support the 'Robinson effect' - i.e. such that a negative (positive) relationship between individual income and price elasticity translates into a negative (positive) relationship between mean income and market demand elasticity. The paper also provides a framework to study the effects of distributive shocks on the price elasticity of market demand.
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