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Who sees what? Demographics and the visibility of consumer expenditures

  • Heffetz, Ori

A growing body of work on social phenomena (like status, peer effects, social comparisons and fashion) rests on assumptions regarding the social observability of consumption activities. The present paper provides new empirical evidence for assessing such assumptions. We analyze data from a unique visibility survey, designed to quantify the relative “cultural” visibility of different consumer expenditures among US households. We investigate the relationship between respondents’ demographics and the expenditures they perceive as visible. We discuss implications for existing and future work.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 801-818

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:4:p:801-818
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  1. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2009. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 425-467.
  2. Jürgen Maurer & André Meier, 2008. "Smooth it Like the “Joneses?†Estimating Peer-Group Effects in Intertemporal Consumption Choice," MEA discussion paper series 08167, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  3. Becker, Gary S, 1991. "A Note on Restaurant Pricing and Other Examples of Social Influences on Price," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1109-16, October.
  4. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
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  6. Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1995. "Design Innovation and Fashion Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 771-92, September.
  7. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Who compares to whom? The anatomy of income comparisons in Europe," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00754447, HAL.
  8. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
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  10. Ireland, Norman J., 1994. "On limiting the market for status signals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 91-110, January.
  11. repec:oup:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:2:p:425-467 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Gad Saad, 2006. "Applying evolutionary psychology in understanding the Darwinian roots of consumption phenomena," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2-3), pages 189-201.
  13. Chao, Angela & Schor, Juliet B., 1998. "Empirical tests of status consumption: Evidence from women's cosmetics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 107-131, February.
  14. 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, 03.
  15. Ori Heffetz, 2011. "A Test of Conspicuous Consumption: Visibility and Income Elasticities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1101-1117, November.
  16. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
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