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‘I show off, so I am well off’: Subjective economic well-being and conspicuous consumption in an emerging economy

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  • Jaikumar, Saravana
  • Singh, Ramendra
  • Sarin, Ankur

Abstract

Conspicuous consumption may be explained by the need to signal higher social status in a society. However, whether this consumption actually translates to improved perception of well-being remains unexamined. In the emerging economy context, we argue that conspicuous consumption may play the role of elevating one's own perception of economic well-being. Further we hypothesize the effect to be higher for the households in the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BOP). Using data from a panel of 34,621 households from India Human Development Surveys (2004 and 2011), we examine the relationship between conspicuous consumption and subjective economic well-being (SEWB) using several empirical strategies. Results support our hypotheses that higher conspicuous consumption may result in improved SEWB and that the effect is higher for households in the BOP. Our findings contribute to the domain of conspicuous consumption and BOP in emerging markets. Further, our results have significant marketing and policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaikumar, Saravana & Singh, Ramendra & Sarin, Ankur, 2018. "‘I show off, so I am well off’: Subjective economic well-being and conspicuous consumption in an emerging economy," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 386-393.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:86:y:2018:i:c:p:386-393
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.05.027
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    Cited by:

    1. Srivastava, Abhinav & Mukherjee, Srabanti & Jebarajakirthy, Charles, 2020. "Aspirational consumption at the bottom of pyramid: A review of literature and future research directions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 246-259.

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