The Neoclassical Axioms Placed On Individual Preferences Economics Essay

Critical Analysis of the Neo Classical ingestion theories of Marshallian Utility analysis and Hicksian Indifference analysis. In topographic point of the construct of ‘utility ‘ by Alfred Marshall, the indifference curve technique has introduced the term ‘preferences ‘ ; alternatively of the central figure system, which is said to mensurate the strength of a consumer ‘s desire, the indifference curve substituted ordinal figure system of first, 2nd, 3rd etc. , to bespeak the consumer ‘s graduated table of penchants. The construct of fringy public-service corporation has been replaced by the fringy rate of permutation. And against the Marshallian ‘proportionality regulation ‘ to depict the consumer ‘s equilibrium, indifference curve technique has advanced the equality between the fringy rate of permutation and the monetary value ratio.


The Marshallian premise of central measuring of public-service corporation is really restrictive. It demands excessively much from the human head. Utility is a mental phenomenon and the preciseness in the measuring of public-service corporation assumed by Marshall is unrealistic. It is criticised that new theory of indifference analysis merely jumps from the “ frying pan of the trouble of mensurating public-service corporation into the fire of the unreality of presuming consumer ‘s complete cognition of all his graduated tables of penchants or indifference map ” . The indifference curve technique envisages a consumer who thinks of countless possible combinations of goods and his comparative penchants for them.


Indifference curves include even the most pathetic combinations which may be far removed from a consumer ‘s accustomed combinations. For illustration, while it may be absolutely reasonable to compare whether three braces of places and six shirts would give him every bit much satisfaction as two braces of places and seven shirts


Both the attacks of Marshallian Utility analysis and indiffence curve technique are based on the psychological or introverted method. The jurisprudence of decreasing fringy public-service corporation, which is psychological in nature lies at the underside of jurisprudence of demand. Indifference curve excessively is based on self-contemplation. This technique is criticised as introverted and hence Samuelson introduced behavioristic method of inventing demand theory.

Relation of Transitivity objected

Armstrong has criticised the relation of transitivity involved in indifference curve technique. Harmonizing to him, the consumer ‘s indifference arises from his inability to comprehend the difference between alternate combinations of goods. This is due to the fact that the difference is excessively little to be noticed. If that is true, the relation of indifference become non-trasitive. This knocks the bottom out of the whole system of indifference curve analysis.

Limited empirical Nature

In Hicks-Allen theory, indifference curves are based on conjectural experimentation. They are based on fanciful indifference curves, although efforts have been made late to deduce them by experimentation.

The theory of Revealed Preference is associated with the name of Paul Samuelson and the theory is called the behaviorist ordinal public-service corporation theory. Alternatively of the unrealistic premises that the consumers operate with a complete and consistent graduated tables of penchants set out in the signifier of indifference curves, most economic experts now prefer to analyze state of affairss in which their hypothesis can be tested. Both Marshallian public-service corporation analysis and Allen-Hicksian indifference curve technique use the introverted method or the subjective method. But Samuelson ‘s revealed penchant theory makes usage of hypotheses which are discernible and testable. There is therefore a displacement from the psychological to behavioristic account of consumer behavior.

Harmonizing to the revealed penchant theory, the consumer is supposed to uncover the nature of his penchants. He shows the goods he would prefer to buy in a given state of affairs even though he may non be able carbon monoxide to demo his graduated table of penchants on an indifference map. Therefore, in a theory of revealed penchant, it is unneeded to presume that the consumers can depict their penchants on indifference map. This is the most of import virtue of the revealed theory. Besides, as Sir Johns Hicks observes, revealed penchant theory lends itself to utilize by econometrists.

Maxims of Revealed Preferences


It is assumed that the consumer is rational or ideal. That is, the consumer seeks to maximize his satisfaction from the resources he has. He will take a combination of goods which he seems most satisfying.i.e. , which he prefers the most. In one set of market conditions, he selects one combination and his picks will be different under different market state of affairss.


It is besides assumed that the consumer ‘s picks are consistent. The picks of existent consumers may non be consistent but those of the ideal or rational consumer may be supposed to be consistent. This consistence implies means, for case, that if a peculiar combination of goods P is better than Q combination and Q is better than R, so P must besides be assumed to better than R.


Transitivity ensures that there should be no such round relationship. That is if P is better than Q and Q is better than R, so R will ne’er better than P or Q will ne’er better than P.

Positive Income Elasticity of Demand

Another really of import premise underlying revealed penchant theory is that the income-elasticity of demand of the consumer must ever be positive. That is, if his income additions, his demand for the trade good must besides increase ; it should non stay the same ( i.e. , zero snap ) and it should non besides lessening ( i.e. , negative snap ) as it happens in the instance of inferior goods.

Strong Ordering

A distinguishing characteristic of Samuelson ‘s revealed penchant theory is that of Strong Ordering. In a strong ordination, each point in a consumer ‘s strategy of purchases is assigned a definite topographic point or figure and at each figure there is merely one point so that the consumer decidedly reveals his penchants. For case, a consumer reveals his penchant when he is observed to take, state Q combination of goods in penchant to all others and he rejects the remainder, In other words, pick reveals penchant by taking one combination and rejecting others, the consumer has shown his definite penchant.

As indifference advocators in Weak Ordering there may be some points which can non be arranged in order or penchant, so that the consumer is unable to bespeak which points he prefers to which. As the combinations of goods on the same indifference curve are concerned because they represent the same degree of satisfaction. Since they are every bit satisfactory, the consumer can non uncover his penchant. The conventional indifference curve is an illustration of weak ordination because all points on the same indifference curve are every bit prefereed to stand for a non-ordered group. The premise under lying the indifference curve technique, viz. , that a consumer is capable of telling all conveivable options indicated by several points on the indifference curve, appeared evidently to be unrealistic.

Samuelson, hence, regulations out the possibility of weak telling. By uncovering the penchant, the behavior of the consumer is reflected. That is how the revealed penchant theory derives a demand theorem from the existent observed behavior of the consumer. The maxim of strong telling “ provides the necessary operational nexus between ascertained pick behavior and the behaviorist ‘s public assistance decisions ” . Thus, the relation of indifference is rejected on operational evidences.

Demand Theorem

By revealed penchant hypothesis, Samuelson has tried to show opposite relationship between monetary value and the sum demanded by presuming income snap of demand to be positive.

Samuelson province the demand theorem under the rubric “ Cardinal Theorem of Consumption Theory ” as “ any good ( simple or composite ) that is known ever to increase in demand when income entirely rises must decidedly shrivel in demand when its proce entirely rises ” . In this proposition, income snap of demand has been assumed to be positive.

This theorem can be illustrated by the undermentioned diagram.

In this diagram consumer ‘s income in footings of good Ten is shown by OB and in footings of good Yttrium by OA. If he spends his full income on these two goods X and Y, AB is the monetary value line. It is assumed that the consumer choose the combination represented by Q on the monetary value line AB as giving him the maximal satisfaction.

If the monetary value of X rises, so the new monetary value line will be AC by undertaking the demand of X from OB to OC.

In this state of affairs, Q which put the consumer in equilibrium before, becomes now beyond his range. In order to accomplish the same combination of Q, consumer is compensated with an excess income to get the better of the higher monetary value opposition and new Price line DE analogue to AC but go throughing through Q is drawn.

CE sum money is needed to achieve this new monetary value line and this excess money is called as ‘Over Compensation Effect ‘ by Samuelson. Since Q combination becomes available, he will non take any combination lower than Q ( i.e. , QE portion of DE ) If he selects Q, it means that he selects the same sum the goods X and Y as earlier. If he chooses any combination above Q on QD part of DE, it means that he selects less sum of good Ten and more sum of good Y. This shows the permutation consequence of the monetary value rise.

Merits of Revealed Preference Theory

There is no uncertainty that it is an betterment on the Marshallian public-service corporation analysis and Hicks-Allen indifference curve technique.

It is behavioristic and draws the demand theorem from the really ascertained behavior of the consumer. On the other manus, both Marshallian Utility analysis and the Hicks-Allen indifference curve techniques are introverted and give psychological account of consumer theory. The revealed penchant theory surveies non an ideal or fanciful consumer and hence, it is more scientific and realistic. Behaviorism has the great advantage of handling the things based on observation and it will ne’er be incorrect.

Revealed Preference analysis tips clear if tge doubtful premises upon which the earlier theories were based. Both Marshallian Utility analysis and indifference technique were based on the public-service corporation maximization rule which is more restrictive and hard to be realised. On the other manus, Revealed Preference theory tips clear of the public-service corporation maximization rule and uses alternatively the consistence rule to deduce the demand theorem. Consistency maxim is less restrictive and more realistic.

Indifference analysis is based on the premise of continuity while Revealed Preference theory does non presume continuity. Indifference curve is continous in the sense that it depicts all conveivable combinations some of which may be so unrealistic as to be pathetic. That is why Prof. Samuelson gave up the premise of continuity. Although monetary value line is drawn continuously, yet no continuity is really involved because the theory is based on the really ascertained pick of the consumer from among such combinations as are really available in the given price-income state of affairs.


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With all the defects in the revealed penchant theory, it is to be admitted that this theory is superior to other demand theories in that it applies a scientific and behavioristic method to consumer ‘s demand. By beckoning out the premise of continuity and public-service corporation maximization, the consumer theory put frontward by Samuelson has become less restrictive and his diction of the penchant hypothesis makes a valuable part.

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