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Well-being and Affluence in the Presence of a Veblen Good

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  • B.Curtis Eaton
  • Mukesh Eswaran

Abstract

The happiness literature has established that, in the developed countries, increasing affluence has not increased well-being in recent decades. We seek an explanation for this in terms of conspicuous consumption, a phenomenon originally identified by Veblen. We develop some simple general equilibrium models that incorporate a Veblen good, among others. In all of our models, as productivity increases, the Veblen good eventually dominates the economy in the sense that, by reducing leisure, more than all the added productivity is dissipated in the production of this good. Also, in the presence of a Veblen good, productivity increases destroy social capital. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • B.Curtis Eaton & Mukesh Eswaran, 2009. "Well-being and Affluence in the Presence of a Veblen Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1088-1104, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:119:y:2009:i:539:p:1088-1104
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    Cited by:

    1. Varvarigos, Dimitrios, 2011. "Non-monotonic welfare dynamics in a growing economy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 303-312, June.
    2. Mukesh Eswaran & Bharat Ramaswami & Wilima Wadhwa, 2013. "Status, Caste, and the Time Allocation of Women in Rural India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 311-333.
    3. Michael D. Carr & Arjun Jayadev, 2015. "Relative Income and Indebtedness: Evidence from Panel Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(4), pages 759-772, December.
    4. Michael D. Carr & Arjun Jayadev, 2013. "Relative Income and Indebtedness: Evidence from Panel Data," Working Papers 2013_02, University of Massachusetts Boston, Economics Department.
    5. Eaton, B. Curtis & Matheson, Jesse A., 2013. "Resource allocation, affluence and deadweight loss when relative consumption matters," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 159-178.

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