Conspicuous Consumption and Race
Kerwin Kofi Charles,
Erik Hurst () and
The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2009, vol. 124, issue 2, 425-467
Using nationally representative data on consumption, we show that Blacks and Hispanics devote larger shares of their expenditure bundles to visible goods (clothing, jewelry, and cars) than do comparable Whites. These differences exist among virtually all subpopulations, are relatively constant over time, and are economically large. Although racial differences in utility preference parameters might account for a portion of these consumption differences, we emphasize instead a model of status seeking in which conspicuous consumption is used as a costly indicator of a household's economic position. Using merged data on race- and state-level income, we demonstrate that a key prediction of the status-signaling model—that visible consumption should be declining in reference group income—is strongly borne out in the data for each racial group. Moreover, we show that accounting for differences in reference group income characteristics explains most of the racial difference in visible consumption.
References: Add references at CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (130) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
Working Paper: Conspicuous Consumption and Race (2007)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:2:p:425-467.
Access Statistics for this article
The Quarterly Journal of Economics is currently edited by Robert J. Barro, Elhanan Helpman, Lawrence F. Katz and Andrei Schleifer
More articles in The Quarterly Journal of Economics from Oxford University Press
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Oxford University Press ().