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When Veblen meets Krugman


  • Christian Ghiglino
  • Antonella Nocco


We introduce relative concerns in the form of conspicuous consumption in a standard economic geography model a la Krugman. The primary intuition is that conspicuous consumption imposes a negative externality on some agents and generates a centrifugal force. We show that this is not always the case as the relative concern also rises the demand for the sophisticated good, strengthening the standard centripetal market size effect. We show that the resulting force is very sensitive to the topology of the network of "conspicuous" links in each region and on the level of economic integration. For instance, with relatively large shares of income devoted to the consumption of the standard good, we show that when trade is moderately costly and classes of workers are segregated, relative concerns tends to stabilize the symmetric equilibrium; on the other hand, if workers of different classes interact via their relative concerns, conspicuous consumption is a centripetal force generating stable fully or partially agglomerated equilibria. Finally, when the level of integration is high, the intuition holds and even small relative concerns destabilize the full agglomeration equilibrium, which is stable in the Krugman model.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Ghiglino & Antonella Nocco, 2012. "When Veblen meets Krugman," DEGIT Conference Papers c017_030, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  • Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c017_030

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thorstein Veblen, 1899. "Mr. Cummings's Strictures on "The Theory of the Leisure Class"," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8, pages 106-106.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Ghiglino & Antonella Nocco, 2017. "When Veblen meets Krugman: social network and city dynamics," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 63(2), pages 431-470, February.

    More about this item


    agglomeration; conspicuous consumption; city dynamics; migration; network effects; economic geography;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F20 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - General
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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