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The social embeddedness of consumption - towards the relationship of income and expenditures over time in Germany


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  • Bögenhold, Dieter
  • Fachinger, Uwe


Expenditures and their patterns over time are expressions of the standard of living of individuals, households, and the society they live in. Nevertheless social and economic analysis focused rather on the analysis of production than on consumption, and income was widely used as a main indicator of (economic) well-being. On the other hand, expenditure regards as a measure to describe and estimate the participation of households in the wealth of nation. Therefore, there is an interest in the relationship of income and spending money. It is often considered that expenditure and income are the two sides of the same coin called 'social inequality'. This assumption implies a strong relationship between these two measures of welfare inequality. Due to the lack of longitudinal data in Germany, we used repeated crosssectional data (RCS) in our empirical analysis which is based on the West German Income and Expenditure Survey (IES) in 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988 and 1993. The IES's are representative cross-sections of all West German households, collected by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Descriptive methods are used to separate age, cohort, and period effects just as the RCS enables us to use a linear model to shed some light on this issue. The analysis indicates that the relationship between income and expenditure is given but weak: The higher the income the looser the concrete expenditure structure in terms of real consumption is. All in all, the social organisation of consumption is a research object in itself to obtain information about the living standard of individuals and households. -- Ausgaben und deren Veränderung im Zeitablauf sind Ausdruck des Lebensstandards von Individuen, Haushalten und der Gesellschaft, in der diese leben. Dennoch bezog sich die soziologische und ökonomische Analyse eher auf die Güterproduktion denn auf deren Konsum, und Einkommen wurde als ein Maß zur Beschreibung der (ökonomischen) Wohlfahrt verwendet. Andererseits dienen die Ausgaben als Maß zur Beschreibung und Abschätzung der Partizipation von Haushalten an der Wohlfahrt einer Gesellschaft. Und darin liegt das Interesse am Verhältnis zwischen Einkommen und Ausgaben begründet. Es wird häufig unterstellt, daß Ausgaben und Einkommen zwei Seiten derselben Medaille darstellen, die als 'soziale Ungleichheit' bezeichnet wird. Diese Annahme impliziert eine Beziehung zwischen den beiden Maßzahlen zur Beschreibung der Wohlfahrtsungleichheit. Die empirische Analyse basiert auf den Einkommens- und Verbrauchsstichproben (EVS) der Jahre 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988 und 1993 für Westdeutschland. Bei den EVS handelt es sich um repräsentative Querschnitterhebungen, die vom Statistischen Bundesamt durchgeführt werden. Auf der Grundlage dieser Daten wird versucht, Aussagen über die Beziehung zwischen Einkommen und Ausgaben zu treffen. Es werden vornehmlich Methoden der deskriptiven Statistik verwendet, um Alters-, Kohorten- und Periodeneffekte isolieren zu können. Weiterhin ermöglicht die Verbindung der einzelnen EVS die Verwendung induktiver statistischer Methoden. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, daß Einkommen und Ausgaben nicht in einem festen Verhältnis zueinander stehen. Je höher die Einkommen sind, desto offener ist der Zusammenhang zur konkreten Ausgabenstruktur. Insgesamt betrachtet bedeutet dies, daß die soziale Organisation des Konsums für sich genommen als Forschungsgegenstand zur Erlangung von Informationen über den Lebensstandard von Individuen und Haushalten mit berücksichtigt werden muß.

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Paper provided by University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS) in its series Working papers of the ZeS with number 06/2000.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeswps:062000

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Cited by:
  1. Fachinger, Uwe & Faik, Jürgen, 2010. "Ausgabenanalysen für Deutschland und Niedersachsen – Berechnungsergebnisse auf Basis der Einkommens‐ und Verbrauchsstichprobe 2003
    [Analysis of expenditures for Germany and Lower Saxony - Empi
    ," MPRA Paper 23269, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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