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Consumption of market goods and wellbeing in small-scale societies: An empirical test among the Tsimane' in the Bolivian Amazon

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  • Masferrer-Dodas, Elena
  • Rico-Garcia, Luis
  • Huanca, Tomás
  • Reyes-García, Victoria

Abstract

Researchers propose sustainable degrowth as an alternative economic model to face current environmental crisis. Standard economic theory criticizes the viability of degrowth under the assumption that there is a causal link between wellbeing and the consumption of goods and services. Here we test the universality of the association between human wellbeing and the consumption of market goods (a standard indicator of economic growth) using a unique body of data collected among 600 adults in a small-scale foraging-horticultural society in the Bolivian Amazon, the Tsimane'. Data include two measures of consumption (weekly expenditures and annual consumption of durables) and two measures of wellbeing (self-reported wellbeing and frequency of smiles). Multivariate analyses suggest that, for this society in the early stages of integration to the market economy, consumption of market goods is not associated with wellbeing. The result is robust to the two measures of wellbeing, to the measurement of consumption at the individual and at the household level, and to other changes in the estimation model. The analysis provides support to one of the social premises in which the theory of sustainable degrowth is based: that human wellbeing does not necessarily bear a direct link with consumption of market goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Masferrer-Dodas, Elena & Rico-Garcia, Luis & Huanca, Tomás & Reyes-García, Victoria, 2012. "Consumption of market goods and wellbeing in small-scale societies: An empirical test among the Tsimane' in the Bolivian Amazon," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 213-220.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:84:y:2012:i:c:p:213-220
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.08.009
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    1. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9756-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Francisco Zorondo-Rodríguez & Mar Grau-Satorras & Jenu Kalla & Katie Demps & Erik Gómez-Baggethun & Claude García & Victoria Reyes-García, 2016. "Contribution of Natural and Economic Capital to Subjective Well-Being: Empirical Evidence from a Small-Scale Society in Kodagu (Karnataka), India," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(2), pages 919-937, June.

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