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Conspicuous Consumption, Human Capital and Poverty

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  • Moav, Omer
  • Neeman, Zvika

Abstract

Poor families around the world spend a large fraction of their income on consumption of goods that appear to be useless in alleviating poverty, while saving at very low rates and neglecting investment in health and education. Such consumption patterns seem to be related to the persistence of poverty. We offer an explanation for this observation, based on a trade-off between conspicuous consumption and human capital as signals for unobserved income, under the assumption that individuals care about their status. Despite homothetic preferences, this trade-off gives rise to a convex saving function, which can help explain the persistence of poverty.

Suggested Citation

  • Moav, Omer & Neeman, Zvika, 2008. "Conspicuous Consumption, Human Capital and Poverty," CEPR Discussion Papers 6864, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6864
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francisco Alvarez-Cuadrado & Ngo Van Long, 2012. "Envy and Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(3), pages 949-973, September.
    2. Khamis, Melanie & Prakash, Nishith & Siddique, Zahra, 2012. "Consumption and social identity: Evidence from India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 353-371.
    3. Ubfal, Diego, 2016. "How general are time preferences? Eliciting good-specific discount rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 150-170.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conspicuous Consumption; Human Capital; Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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