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Smooth it Like the 'Joneses'? Estimating Peer-Group Effects in Intertemporal Consumption Choice

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  • Jürgen Maurer
  • André Meier

Abstract

Recent theoretical contributions have suggested peer-group effects as a potential explanation for several puzzles in macroeconomics but their empirical relevance for intertemporal consumption choice is an open question. We derive an extension of the standard life-cycle model that allows for consumption externalities. In this framework, we propose a social multiplier approach to distinguish true externalities from merely correlated effects. Estimating our model using US panel data, we find strong predictable co-movement of household consumption within peer groups. Although much of this co-movement reflects correlated effects only, there is statistically significant evidence for moderate consumption externalities across several plausible peer-group specifications. Copyright © 2008 The Author(s).

Suggested Citation

  • Jürgen Maurer & André Meier, 2008. "Smooth it Like the 'Joneses'? Estimating Peer-Group Effects in Intertemporal Consumption Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(527), pages 454-476, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:118:y:2008:i:527:p:454-476
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    Cited by:

    1. Gelain, Paolo & Lansing, Kevin J., 2014. "House prices, expectations, and time-varying fundamentals," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 3-25.
    2. Kazuo Mino & Yasuhiro Nakamoto, 2016. "Heterogeneous conformism and wealth distribution in a neoclassical growth model," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 62(4), pages 689-717, October.
    3. Tournemaine, Frederic & Tsoukis, Christopher, 2010. "Gain versus pain from status and ambition: Effects on growth and inequality," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 286-294, April.
    4. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Marianna Kudlyak & John Mondragon & Olivier Coibion, 2014. "Does Greater Inequality Lead to More Household Borrowing? New Evidence from Household Data," 2014 Meeting Papers 402, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Heffetz, Ori, 2012. "Who sees what? Demographics and the visibility of consumer expenditures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 801-818.
    6. Lloyd-Braga, Teresa & Modesto, Leonor & Seegmuller, Thomas, 2014. "Market distortions and local indeterminacy: A general approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 216-247.
    7. Barnett, Richard & Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Bunzel, Helle, 2016. "The Fight-or-Flight Response to the Joneses," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2016-12, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
    8. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Frederiksen, Anders & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2016. "Consumption Network Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 9983, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Quintana-Domeque, Climent & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2016. "“Relative concerns for consumption at the top”: An intertemporal analysis for the UK," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 172-194.
    10. repec:eee:jeborg:v:140:y:2017:i:c:p:197-223 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Eckerstorfer, Paul & Wendner, Ronald, 2013. "Asymmetric and non-atmospheric consumption externalities, and efficient consumption taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 42-56.
    12. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Japaridze, Irakli, 2017. "Trickle-down consumption, financial deregulation, inequality, and indebtedness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-26.
    13. Benjamin Volland, 2013. "On the intergenerational transmission of preferences," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 217-249, October.
    14. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:601-623 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Jose Maria Casado & Jose Maria Labeaga, 2016. "Envy and Habits: Panel Data Estimates of Interdependent Preferences," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(4), pages 443-469, August.
    16. KennethJ. Arrow & ParthaS. Dasgupta, 2009. "Conspicuous Consumption, Inconspicuous Leisure," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(541), pages 497-516, November.
    17. Michalis Nikiforos, 2015. "A Nonbehavioral Theory of Saving," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_844, Levy Economics Institute.
    18. Kazuo MIno & Yasuhiro Nakamoto, 2014. "Conformism and Wealth Distribution," KIER Working Papers 901, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    19. Frederic Tournemaine & Christopher Tsoukis, 2015. "Public Expenditures, Growth, and Distribution in a Mixed Regime of Education with a Status Motive," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(5), pages 673-701, October.
    20. Rafael Wildauer, 2016. "Determinants of US household debt: New evidence from the SCF," Working Papers PKWP1608, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
    21. Airaudo, Marco, 2013. "Monetary policy, stock prices, and consumption externalities," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 537-541.

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