Conspicuous Consumption, Pure Profits, and the Luxury Tax
AbstractWe examine a model of conspicuous consumption and explore the nature of competition in markets for conspicuous goods. We assume that, in addition to intrinsic utility, individuals seek status, and that perceptions of wealth affect status. Under identifiable conditions, the model generates Veblen effects: utility is positively related to the price of the good consumed. Equilibria are then characterized by the existence of "budget' brands (which are sold at a price equal to marginal cost), as well as 'luxury" brands (which are sold at a price above marginal cost, despite the fact that producers are perfectly competitive). Luxury brands are not intrinsically superior to budget brands but are purchased by consumers who seek to signal high levels of wealth. Within the context of this model, an appropriately designed luxury tax is a non-distortionary tax on pure profits.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4163.
Date of creation: Sep 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, vol. 86, no. 3, pp. 349-373, June 1996.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. "Diamonds Are a Government's Best Friend: Burden-Free Taxes on Goods Valued for Their Values," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 186-91, March.
- Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992.
"Understanding welfare stigma: Taxpayer resentment and statistical discrimination,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 165-183, July.
- Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1990. "Understanding Welfare Stigma: Taxpayer Resentment And Statistical Discrimination," Papers 42, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
- Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
- George A. Akerlof, 1978.
"A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence,"
Special Studies Papers
118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
- Fershtman, C. & Weiss, Y., 1991.
"Social Status , Culture and Economic Performance,"
32-91, Tel Aviv.
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
- Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984.
"Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality,"
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
- Braun, Ottmar L. & Wicklund, Robert A., 1989. "Psychological antecedents of conspicuous consumption," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 161-187, June.
- Basmann, Robert L & Molina, David J & Slottje, Daniel J, 1988. "A Note on Measuring Veblen's Theory of Conspicuous Consumption," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 531-35, August.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.