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The Social Contingency of Wants

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  • Kjell Arne Brekke
  • Richard B. Howarth

Abstract

ABSTRACT. Economic models typically assume that individual wants are determined by forces exogenous to the economic system. Social psychology and consumer research, in contrast, support the view that the perceived benefits of goods and services are strongly affected by endogenously determined social norms. We present a selective overview of the literature on the relationship between consumption and well-being, exploring the ways in which informal arguments from social science might be linked to formal models of economic behavior. We find that the 'fixed preferences" hypothesis leads to the systematic undervaluation of environmental services and the underprovisioning of environmental goods.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Land Economics.

Volume (Year): 76 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 493-503

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:landec:v:76:y:2000:i:4:p:493-503

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Web page: http://le.uwpress.org/

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Cited by:
  1. Roos, Michael W.M., 2008. "Willingness to consume and ability to consume," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 387-402, May.
  2. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
  3. Kjell Arne Brekke & Snorre Kverndokk & Karinen Nyborg, 2000. "An Economic Model of Moral Motivation," Discussion Papers 290, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  4. R. Turner, 2007. "Limits to CBA in UK and European environmental policy: retrospects and future prospects," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 253-269, May.
  5. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Howarth, Richard B. & Nyborg, Karine, 2003. "Status-seeking and material affluence: evaluating the Hirsch hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 29-39, April.
  6. Courard-Hauri, David, 2004. "The effect of income choice on bias in policy decisions made using cost-benefit analyses," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3-4), pages 191-199, December.
  7. Mariano Torras, 2008. "The Subjectivity Inherent in Objective Measures of Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 475-487, December.
  8. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2006. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 129-146, June.
  9. João Bernardino & Tanya Araújo, 2010. "On Positional Consumption and Technological Innovation- an Agent-based Approach," Working Papers Department of Economics 2010/04, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  10. Howarth, Richard B., 2007. "Towards an operational sustainability criterion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 656-663, September.
  11. Howarth, Richard B. & Farber, Stephen, 2002. "Accounting for the value of ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 421-429, June.
  12. Mainwaring, Lynn, 2001. "Environmental values and the frame of reference," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 391-402, September.

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