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Demand for Luxury Goods in a World of Income Disparities

Author

Listed:
  • Anna Ray

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • Antoine Vatan

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, LMA - Laboratoire de macroéconomie - Centre de Recherche en Économie et STatistique (CREST))

Abstract

This paper approaches international trade in luxury goods from demand side. It associates demand for luxury goods with within-country income disparities, via a social interactions component, the so-called Veblen effect (Veblen 1899). In the theoretical part, we propose a simple model of vertical differentiation with preferences displaying a Veblen effect. The model predicts that demand for luxury goods increases with the income gap between the two socio-economic groups (wealthy and non-wealthy agents). Furthermore, wealthy individuals in societies with higher income disparities have higher incentives to purchase luxury goods and hence they are willing to pay more for these. Next, we provide an empirical validation of these predictions on a sample of French high-end exporters (as defined by Martin and Mayneris, 2013) from French 8-digit CN custom data for 2006 at firm-product-destination level. Both demand for and average firm-product unit values of luxury goods are increasing with the income gap in importer country. The relationship is robust to inclusion of control variables as well as to use of alternative measures of income dispersion.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Ray & Antoine Vatan, 2013. "Demand for Luxury Goods in a World of Income Disparities," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS hal-00959398, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:gmonwp:hal-00959398
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-pse.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00959398
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin, Julien, 2012. "Markups, quality, and transport costs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 777-791.
    2. Julien MARTIN & Florian MAYNERIS, 2013. "High-End Variety Exporters Defying Distance: Micro Facts and Macroeconomic Implications," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013027, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    3. Eric A. Verhoogen, 2008. "Trade, Quality Upgrading, and Wage Inequality in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 489-530.
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    5. Pablo Fajgelbaum & Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2011. "Income Distribution, Product Quality, and International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(4), pages 721-765.
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    7. Ana Cecília Fieler, 2011. "Nonhomotheticity and Bilateral Trade: Evidence and a Quantitative Explanation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1069-1101, July.
    8. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    9. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Nonhomothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1093-1120, December.
    10. Bastos, Paulo & Silva, Joana, 2010. "The quality of a firm's exports: Where you export to matters," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 99-111, November.
    11. 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.
    12. Hélène Latzer & Florian Mayneris, 2011. "Trade in quality and income distribution: an analysis of the enlarged EU market," Working Papers of BETA 2011-21, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
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    15. Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
    16. Martin, Julien & Mayneris, Florian, 2015. "High-end variety exporters defying gravity: Micro facts and aggregate implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 55-71.
    17. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, snobbism and conformism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 55-71, October.
    18. Julien MARTIN & Florian MAYNERIS, 2013. "High-End Variety Exporters Defying Distance: Micro Facts and Macroeconomic Implications," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013027, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin, Julien & Mayneris, Florian, 2015. "High-end variety exporters defying gravity: Micro facts and aggregate implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 55-71.
    2. repec:bla:kyklos:v:71:y:2018:i:4:p:613-641 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Martin, Julien & Mayneris, Florian, 2015. "High-end variety exporters defying gravity: Micro facts and aggregate implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 55-71.

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    Keywords

    International Trade; Luxury Goods; Veblen Effects;

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