A Test of Conspicuous Consumption: Visibility and Income Elasticities
This paper shows that, consistent with a signaling-by-consuming model à la Veblen, income elasticities can be predicted from the visibility of consumer expenditures. We outline a stylized conspicuous consumption model where income elasticity is endogenously predicted to be higher if a good is visible and lower if it is not. We then develop a survey-based measure of expenditure visibility, ranking different expenditures by how noticeable they are to others. Finally, we show that our visibility measure predicts up to one-third of the observed variation in elasticities across consumption categories in U.S. data. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Volume (Year): 93 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
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