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Conspicuous Consumption and Inequality

Author

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  • Harriger, Jessica
  • Khanna, Neha
  • Pape, Andreas

Abstract

We analyze the change in consumer demand following a mean preserving change in consumption inequality when there is conspicuous consumption. We model interdependent preferences including “keeping up with the Joneses” (imitating others) and “running away from the Joneses” (distinguishing oneself from others) with multiple peer groups and peer group effects (envy and snob effects). An individual not directly involved in the redistribution increases consumption of the more conspicuous good when she demonstrates i) ‘keeping up’ and a relatively stronger envy effect, or ii) ‘running away’ and a relatively stronger snob effect. Behaviors generated by existing models emerge as special cases.

Suggested Citation

  • Harriger, Jessica & Khanna, Neha & Pape, Andreas, 2010. "Conspicuous Consumption and Inequality," MPRA Paper 24910, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:24910
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/24910/1/MPRA_paper_24910.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Konrad, Kai A. & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. "Relative standing comparisons, risk taking, and safety regulations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 345-358, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "The social basis of interdependent preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 779-800, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Bill Dupor & Wen-Fang Liu, 2003. "Jealousy and Equilibrium Overconsumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 423-428, March.
    7. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-1028, September.
    8. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saravana Jaikumar & Ankur Sarin, 2015. "Conspicuous consumption and income inequality in an emerging economy: evidence from India," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 279-292, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conspicuousness; peer group effects; keeping up with the Joneses; status signaling; envy; snob;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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