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Income Inequality, Income, and Internet Searches for Status Goods: A Cross-National Study of the Association Between Inequality and Well-Being

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  • Lukasz Walasek

    () (University of Warwick)

  • Gordon D. A. Brown

    (University of Warwick)

Abstract

Abstract Is there a positive association between a nation’s income inequality and concerns with status competition within that nation? Here we use Google Correlate and Google Trends to examine frequency of internet search terms and find that people in countries in which income inequality is high search relatively more frequently for positional brand names such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, or Chanel. This tendency is stronger among well-developed countries. We find no evidence that income alone is associated with searches for positional goods. We also present evidence that the concern with positional goods does not reflect non-linear effects of income on consumer spending, either across nations or (extending previous findings that people who live in unequal US States search more for positional goods) within the USA. It is concluded that income inequality is associated with greater concerns with positional goods, and that this concern is reflected in internet searching behaviour.

Suggested Citation

  • Lukasz Walasek & Gordon D. A. Brown, 2016. "Income Inequality, Income, and Internet Searches for Status Goods: A Cross-National Study of the Association Between Inequality and Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 1001-1014, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:129:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-015-1158-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-015-1158-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Bricker, Jesse & Ramcharan, Rodney & Krimmel, Jacob, 2014. "Signaling Status: The Impact of Relative Income on Household Consumption and Financial Decisions," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-76, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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