“Rethinking Microeconomics: A Proposed Reconstruction”: Anwar Shaikh


I. Introduction

Microeconomics is important because individual agents make choices, and choices have personal and social consequences. Incentives do matter, and they do affect individual choices. But it does not follow that individual decision making is characterized by the rules of so-called rational choice and rational expectations or by the reductive incentives they embody. Nor does it follow that aggregates can be analyzed in terms of representative agents. The historical, empirical and analytical evidence against this set of hypotheses is overwhelming. One purpose of this paper is to survey this evidence. But a larger purpose is to demonstrate that the central empirical findings of microeconomics do not require any such foundation, because they can be derived from a wide range of individual decision making modes. Aggregates are shown to be “robustly indifferent” to their microfoundations because shaping structures such as budget constraints and social influences which generally play decisive roles…

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