Who Sees What? Demographics and the Visibility of Consumer Expenditures
40 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2007 Last revised: 22 Sep 2013
Date Written: December 28, 2011
A growing body of work on social phenomena (like status, peer effects, social comparisons, fashion, etc.) rests on assumptions regarding the social observability of consumption activities. The present paper provides new empirical evidence for assessing such assumptions. We analyze data from a unique visibility survey, designed to quantify the relative "cultural" visibility of different consumer expenditures among U.S. households. We investigate the relationship between respondents' demographics and the expenditures they perceive as visible. We discuss implications for existing and future work.
Keywords: expenditure visibility, expenditure observability, conspicuous consumption, survey data, visibility subcultures
JEL Classification: J1, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation