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Relative Consumption Concerns or Non-Monotonic Preferences?

  • Inga Hillesheim

    ()

  • Mario Mechtel

    ()

    (Institute for Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the EU, University of Trier)

We conduct a classroom survey to investigate the willingness to sacrifice consumption in absolute terms in order to ascend above others in terms of consumption levels. In contrast to other studies using survey methodologies, participants are divided into a treatment and a control group. This allows us to distinguish whether choosing less in absolute terms is really induced by relative consumption concerns, or else by nonmonotonic preferences. We find that relative consumption concerns provide a good explanation for choosing less in the case of some goods, while this is not the case for a number of other goods.

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Paper provided by Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU) in its series IAAEU Discussion Papers with number 201201.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:iaa:dpaper:201201
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  1. Carlsson, Fredrik & Qin, Ping, 2010. "It is better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix: Concern for relative standing in rural China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 180-186, April.
  2. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  3. Hillesheim, Inga & Mechtel, Mario, 2011. "What makes us want to have more than others? Explaining relative consumption effects of public and private goods," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 4, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  4. Solnick, Sara J. & Hong, Li & Hemenway, David, 2007. "Positional goods in the United States and China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 537-545, August.
  5. 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.
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