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Conspicuous Consumption and Peer Effects among the Poor: Evidence From a Field Experiment

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  • Christopher P Roth

Abstract

I use a randomised conditional cash transfer program from Indonesia to provide evidence on peer effects in consumption of poor households. I combine this with consumption visibility data from Indonesia to examine whether peer effects in consumption differ by a good’s visibility. In line with a model of conspicuous consumption, I find that the expenditure share of visible (nonvisible) goods rises (falls) for untreated households in treated sub-districts, whose reference group visible consumption is exogenously increased. Finally, I provide evidence on the mechanisms underlying the estimated spillovers using data on social interactions and social punishment norms. In line with Veblen’s (1899) claim that conspicuous consumption is more prevalent in societies with less social capital, I show that the peer effects in visible goods are larger in villages and for households with lower levels of social activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher P Roth, 2014. "Conspicuous Consumption and Peer Effects among the Poor: Evidence From a Field Experiment," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-29, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2014-29
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/csae-wps-2014-29.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonia Grohmann & Sahra Sakha, 2015. "The Effect of Peer Observation on Consumption Choices: Experimental Evidence," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1525, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. König, Tobias & Lausen, Tobias, 2017. "Relative Consumption Preferences and Public Provision of Private Goods," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 18, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    3. Grohmann, Antonia Charlotte & Sakha, Sahra, 2015. "The Effect of Peer Observation on the Consumption of Temptation Goods: Experimental Evidence," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113084, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Leonardo Bursztyn & Bruno Ferman & Stefano Fiorin & Martin Kanz & Gautam Rao, 2018. "Status Goods: Experimental Evidence from Platinum Credit Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(3), pages 1561-1595.
    5. König, Tobias & Lausen, Tobias, 2016. "Relative consumption preferences and public provision of private goods," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2016-213, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. repec:eee:soceco:v:78:y:2019:i:c:p:193-199 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conspicuous Consumption; Peer Effects; Relative Concerns; Spillovers; Social Interactions; Social Norms;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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