Memory and Anticipation: New Empirical Support for an Old Theory of the Utility Function

Aug 2014 | 721

Authors: John Knight, Ramani Gunatilaka


The paper contrasts early theories of the utility function (starting with Bentham and elaborated by Jevons) with the modern theory (laid down by Fisher and Samuelson).  The former include in the utility function not only the sensation of current events but also the memory of past events and the anticipation of future events.  The alternative hypotheses are tested by introducing both past and expected future income into the estimated subjective well-being function, using an appropriate data set for China.  The tests favour the early theories.  Implications are drawn.

JEL Codes: B13, B21, D60

Keywords: Anticipation, China, Discounted utility, Memory, Subjective well-being, Utility function


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