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Tackling Keynes’ question: a look back on 15 years of Learning To Consume

Andreas Chai

Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2017, vol. 27, issue 2, 251-271

Abstract: Abstract Two centuries of continuous economic growth since the industrial revolution have fundamentally transformed consumer lifestyles. Here Keynes raised an important question: will consumption always continue to expand in the same manner as it has in the previous two centuries? If so, how? This paper critically reviews a body of work that has adopted the Learning To Consume (LTC) approach to study the long run growth of consumption (Witt 2001). By borrowing certain established insights from psychology and biology about how consumers learn and what motivates them to consume, it highlights how rising income, new technologies and market competition have combined to trigger important changes in both the underlying set of needs possessed by consumers and how they learn to satisfy these needs. Methodological issues and open questions are discussed.

Keywords: Demand growth; Consumer learning; Needs; Endogenous preferences; D11; D01; E21; 033 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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