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Modelling with flexibility through the business cycle: using a panel smooth transition model to test for the lipstick effect

Wenying Li (), Chen Zhen and Jeffrey H. Dorfman

Applied Economics, 2020, vol. 52, issue 25, 2694-2704

Abstract: Consumer spending typically declines during periods of economic distress, but observers have noted that lipstick purchases appear to increase during recessions, which is often referred to as the lipstick effect. However, the existence of such effect has remained empirically unconfirmed. Using weekly retail scanner data on lipstick sales from 2006 to 2016 in the United States, we applied a Panel Smooth Transition Regression (PSTR) demand model to test the relationship between economic distress and lipstick sales. This flexible demand specification allows regression coefficients to vary as a function of an exogenous macroeconomic variables and fluctuate asymmetrically, non-linearly, and time-varyingly across an unlimited number of regimes. Empirical results show the income elasticity of demand for lipstick decreased rapidly from 0.31 to 0.05 during the 2007–2009 recession, then slowly rebounded to 0.31 by the second quarter of 2014, thus first empirically confirming the existence of the lipstick effect.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2019.1693701

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