References for Conspicuous Consumption


  • Friedman, D. and J. Yellin (1997)
    Evolving Landscapes for Population Games.
    Draft manuscript, University of California, Santa Cruz.
    See esp. Sec. 8, p. 19 for shock waves.
  • Friedman, D. and J. Yellin (2000)
    Castles in Tuscany: The Dynamics of Rank Dependent Consumption.
    Draft manuscript, University of California, Santa Cruz.
    See esp. p. 64.
  • Friedman, D. (2001)
    Towards Evolutionary Game Models of Financial Markets,
    Quantitative Finance 1:1, 177-185.
    See esp. Sec. 7, Landscape Learning, and Sec. 8, Consumption Dynamics.
  • Ljundqvist, L. and H. Uhlig (2000)
    Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management Under
    Keeping Up with the Joneses.
    American Economic Review. 90(3) (June): 356-366.
    UCSC: Online
    This paper discusses utility functions for envy motive, with references to earlier work.

  • Books

  • Rae, John (1834)
    Statement of Some New Principles on the Subject of Political Economy: Exposing the fallacies of the system of free trade, and of some other doctrines maintained in the "Wealth of Nations."
    Hilliard Gray and Co., Boston, 1834.
    Reprints of Economic Classics, New York: Kelley, 1964.
    ILL from Univ. of Conn., Storrs: 330.1 R121s

    This book is a reply to An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, popularly known as The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776 by Scottish political economist Adam Smith (1723-1790). Rae's New Principles, originally written for an European audience but revised for America after Rae's move to Canada in 1833, and Boston in 1834, was a major critique of Smith and his followers.

    Rae's work is presented in three Books:

    • Book I. Individual and national interests are not identical. Introduction and 2 chapters.
    • Book II. Of the nature of stock and the laws governing its increase and diminution. Introduction, 15 chapters, and appendix.
    • Book III. Of the operations of the legislator on national stock. Introduction and 3 chapters.

    Rae's discussion of conspicuous consumption is found in Chapter XI of Book II. (RHA, 17 Oct 2004)

  • Veblen, Thorstein (1899)
    The Theory of the Leisure Class.
    MacMillan Co., London.
    UCSC:McHenry HB831.V4 1992
    Originally published in 1899 by the eccentric social economist and critic of American society, the edition of 1992 includes an informative critique by C. Wright Mills. The first of ten or so books by Veblen, this book defines the leisure class, which practices conspicuous leisure (Chapter 3), an important component of which is conspicuous consumption (Chapter 4). Examples listed by Veblen include: servants, food and clothing for the lady of the house, rare articles of adornment, intoxicating beverages, narcotics, luxuries, expensive vices, giving costly feasts and entertainments, and so on and so on. (RHA, 08 Sept 2004)
  • Duesenberry, James S. (1949).
    Income, Saving, and the Theory of Consumer Behavior.
    Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
    UC Los Angeles YRL HB801 .D86i
    Revised from his PhD thesis, The Consumption Function at the University of Michigan, 1948, this book is a fundamental text on the theory of consumer choice. While Veblen is hardly mentionned, and conspicuous consumption is not considered, nevertheless the book is an important precursor for our current work. It is devoted primarily to the theory of saving, and studies extensively the "savings ratio", that is, how much income does one choose to save, and how much to spend. This ratio, then, defines a one-dimensional strategy space. We may consider savings as the ultimate in inconspicuous consumption. And unlike the choice of conspicuous versus inconspicuous consumption, the savings ratio is observable. Therefore, the author compares theory to fact. Finally, the savings ratio data is sorted according to income (upper, middle, low), ethnicity, age, and other factors. These results suggest to us future extensions of our model. (RHA, 16 September 2004)
  • Frank, R. (1985).
    Choosing the Right Pond: Human Behavior and the Quest for Status.
    Oxford University Press, New York.
    UCSC:McHenry HB71.F6955 1985
    Frank is Professor of Economics at Cornell University. In this book on human behavior, Veblen's model is discussed in Ch. 7, "The Positional Treadmill," and Ch. 8, "Collective Protection of Inconspicuous Consumption." Among his examples of conspicuous consumption: swimming pools, home insulation, cars, clothes, food, savings. (RHA, 06 Sept 2004)
  • Barkow, J., Cosmides, L. and J. Tooby (1992)
    The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture.
    Oxford University Press, New York.
    UCSC:McHenry BF711.A33 1991

  • Revised 17 October 2004 by Ralph Abraham