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Competitive Conspicuous Consumption, Household Saving and Income inequality

  • Walther Herbert

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vienna University of Economics & B.A.)

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    An intertemporal decision model is presented in which subjects save less for retirement than the permanent income hypothesis predicts, signaling optimistic income prospects (and therefore high latent productivity) to possible partners in productive exchanges. Competitive conspicuous consumption (CCC), as it is called, is a self-defeating strategy, if followed by subjects simultaneously. Egalitarian policies (which have to be distinguished from pure welfare policies) tend to lower excess consumption. The CCC-hypothesis justifies a cross-sectional Keynesian consumption function with declining marginal propensities to consume. It is argued that the cultural context is highly relevant to the scope and importance of CCC.

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    Paper provided by Vienna University of Economics and Business Research Group: Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness in its series Working Papers with number geewp40.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwgee:geewp40
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    Web page: http://www.wu.ac.at/economics/en

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    1. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hirschman, Albert O & Rothschild, Michael, 1973. "The Changing Tolerance for Income Inequality in the Course of Economic Development; with a Mathematical Appendix," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 544-66, November.
    3. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    4. Chiuri, Maria Concetta & Jappelli, Tullio, 2003. "Financial market imperfections and home ownership: A comparative study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 857-875, October.
    5. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-73, November.
    6. Hirschman, Albert O., 1973. "The changing tolerance for income inequality in the course of economic development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 1(12), pages 29-36, December.
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