Idiosyncratic Learning, Creative Consumption and Happiness
Advances in Austrian Economics, Vol. 10, pp. 41-73, 2007
Posted: 9 Mar 2007 Last revised: 18 Oct 2021
Date Written: May 1, 2004
The consensus view is that economists should observe consumer choices and abstain from investigating the psychological and physiological causes of wants, or the mechanisms governing the formation of preferences. This may be a correct procedure as far as ordinary functional goods are concerned. Problems tend to arise with creative goods (e.g. cultural goods) whose consumption (i) requires skills acquired through education and experience and (ii) generates positive and negative feedbacks and learning-by-consuming processes. This paper presents a simple model of local rational learning explaining the idiosyncratic accumulation of consumption human capital. Consumption generates local feedback mechanisms whose characteristics depend on the nature of goods and on the type of agent. The model provides some insights on the microeconomics of creative consumption as well as on the contribution of cultural policies to happiness in a liberal society.
Keywords: Creative consumption, happiness, learning
JEL Classification: C60, D10, I2
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