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‘I show off, so I am well off’: Subjective economic well-being and conspicuous consumption in an emerging economy

Saravana Jaikumar, Ramendra Singh and Ankur Sarin

Journal of Business Research, 2018, vol. 86, issue C, 386-393

Abstract: Conspicuous consumption may be explained by the need to signal higher social status in a society. However, whether this consumption actually translates to improved perception of well-being remains unexamined. In the emerging economy context, we argue that conspicuous consumption may play the role of elevating one's own perception of economic well-being. Further we hypothesize the effect to be higher for the households in the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BOP). Using data from a panel of 34,621 households from India Human Development Surveys (2004 and 2011), we examine the relationship between conspicuous consumption and subjective economic well-being (SEWB) using several empirical strategies. Results support our hypotheses that higher conspicuous consumption may result in improved SEWB and that the effect is higher for households in the BOP. Our findings contribute to the domain of conspicuous consumption and BOP in emerging markets. Further, our results have significant marketing and policy implications.

Keywords: Subjective economic well-being; Conspicuous consumption; Bottom of the pyramid; Emerging economy; India Human Development Survey (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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