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How Much Do Others Matter? Explaining Positional Concerns for Different Goods and Personal Characteristics

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Author Info

  • Inga Hillesheim

    ()

  • Mario Mechtel

    ()
    (Institute for Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the EU, University of Trier)

Abstract

We test concerns for relative standing with respect to private consumption, income, leisure, savings, and personal characteristics, using data from a classroom survey. Our results show highest degrees of positionality for personal characteristics and income. In order to explain positionality, we employ survey participants’ ratings of items with respect to (i) observability and (ii) non-psychological negative externalities on others. Based on these ratings, our results show that non-psychological externalities play an important role for an item’s degree of positionality. In contrast to previous research, we find that there is no statistically significant effect of an item’s observability on its degree of positionality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU) in its series IAAEU Discussion Papers with number 201210.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:iaa:dpaper:201210

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Keywords: behavioral economics; relative consumption; other-regarding preferences; relative standing;

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References

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  1. Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Working Papers in Economics 100, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2007. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," NBER Working Papers 13392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Inga Hillesheim & Mario Mechtel, 2012. "Relative Consumption Concerns or Non-Monotonic Preferences?," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201201, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  5. Carlsson, Fredrik & Qin, Ping, 2010. "It is better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix: Concern for relative standing in rural China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 180-186, April.
  6. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2010. "Why Beauty Matters," Staff General Research Papers 32112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. A. Colin Cameron & Pravin K. Trivedi, 2010. "Microeconometrics Using Stata, Revised Edition," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number musr, April.
  8. Heffetz, Ori, 2012. "Who sees what? Demographics and the visibility of consumer expenditures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 801-818.
  9. Guillen-Royo, Monica, 2011. "Reference group consumption and the subjective wellbeing of the poor in Peru," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 259-272, March.
  10. Hayo, Bernd & Seifert, Wolfgang, 2002. "Subjective economic well-being in Eastern Europe," IBES Diskussionsbeiträge 120, University of Duisburg-Essen, Faculty for Economics and Business Administration.
  11. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  12. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  13. Frank, Robert H., 2008. "Should public policy respond to positional externalities?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1777-1786, August.
  14. Rainer Winkelmann, 2011. "Conspicuous consumption and satisfaction," ECON - Working Papers 030, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Hillesheim, Inga & Mechtel, Mario, 2011. "What makes us want to have more than others? Explaining relative consumption effects of public and private goods," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 4, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
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Cited by:
  1. Goerke, Laszlo & Hillesheim, Inga, 2013. "Relative consumption, working time, and trade unions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 170-179.
  2. Mario Mechtel & Tim Friehe, 2014. "Gambling to Leapfrog in Status?," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201404, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).

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