Signalling to whom? Conspicuous spending and the local density of the social group income distribution
We empirically evaluate two competing explanations about how the dispersion of income within social groups affects household spending on visible goods. Using South African household expenditure data, we find evidence that precisely the reverse of the effect predicted by Charles et al. (2009) takes place in that rich households tend to reduce, rather than increase, spending on visible goods as the dispersion of social group income increases. Our results instead support rank-based models of status competition since the number of within-group peers who possess a similar income level is found to be positively correlated with household spending on visible goods. Moreover, we find that the effect of this 'local' density tends to be stronger in the tail regions of the distribution and performs better than other proxies for the overall income distribution used in recent studies. How the range of visible goods used to signal wealth expands as household income grows is also explored.
|Date of creation:||29 Jan 2013|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Deutschhausstrasse 10, 35032 Marburg|
Web page: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb19/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008.
"Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
- Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative income, happiness, and utility: An explanation for the Easterlin paradox and other puzzles," Post-Print halshs-00754299, HAL.
- Kaus, Wolfhard, 2013. "Conspicuous consumption and “race”: Evidence from South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 63-73.
- Wolfhard Kaus, 2010. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race: Evidence from South Africa," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-03, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
- Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2009. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 425-467.
- Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2007. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," NBER Working Papers 13392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-116, March.
- Duangkamon Chotikapanich & William E. Griffiths & D. S. Prasada Rao & Vicar Valencia, 2012. "Global Income Distributions and Inequality, 1993 and 2000: Incorporating Country-Level Inequality Modeled with Beta Distributions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 52-73, February.
- Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Ivan Werning, 2005. "The Equilibrium Distribution of Income and the Market for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 282-310, April.
- Omer Moav and & Zvika Neeman, 2012. "Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(563), pages 933-956, 09.
- Derek Yu, 2008. "The comparability of Income and Expenditure Surveys 1995, 2000 and 2005/2006," Working Papers 11/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Frijters, Paul & Leigh, Andrew, 2008. "Materialism on the March: From conspicuous leisure to conspicuous consumption?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1937-1945, October.
- Paul Frijters & Andrew Leigh, 2005. "Materialism on the March: From Conspicuous Leisure to Conspicuous Consumption?," CEPR Discussion Papers 495, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
- Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
- Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, "undated". "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
- Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-857, July.
- Brown, Philip H. & Bulte, Erwin & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Positional spending and status seeking in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 139-149, September.
- Brown, Philip H. & Bulte, Erwin & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2010. "Positional spending and status seeking in rural China," IFPRI discussion papers 983, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2008. "Global Migration and the World Economy: Two Centuries of Policy and Performance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582775, July.
- Sara J. Solnick & David Hemenway, 2005. "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in Others?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 147-151, May.
- Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-1028, September.
- Brown, Alan & Deaton, Angus S, 1972. "Surveys in Applied Economics: Models of Consumer Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(328), pages 1145-1236, December.
- Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
- Chao, Angela & Schor, Juliet B., 1998. "Empirical tests of status consumption: Evidence from women's cosmetics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 107-131, February.
- Dorothy S. Brady & Rose D. Friedman, 1947. "Savings and the Income Distribution," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in Income and Wealth, pages 247-265 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
- Servaas Van der berg & Megan Louw & Derek Yu, 2008. "Post-Transition Poverty Trends Based On An Alternative Data Source," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(1), pages 58-76, 03.
- Servaas van der Berg & Megan Louw & Derek Yu, 2007. "Post-transition poverty trends based on an alternative data source," Working Papers 08/2007, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Hynes, J. Allan, 1998. "The Emergence of the Neoclassical Consumption Function: The Formative Years, 1940–1952," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(01), pages 25-49, March.
- A.J. Christopher, 2001. "Urban Segregation in Post-apartheid South Africa," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(3), pages 449-466, March.
- Alessio Moneta & Andreas Chai, 2010. "The evolution of Engel curves and its implications for structural change," Discussion Papers in Economics economics:201009, Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.
- Ulrich Witt, 2001. "special issue: Learning to consume - A theory of wants and the growth of demand," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 23-36. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2012-18. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christoph Mengs)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.