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Mostrando entradas de febrero, 2013

Burning Money, Wasting Life

By Mariano Rojas *

It seems we have developed a practice of burning money every day.

In his Theory of the Leisure Class Thorstein Veblen argued that peoples’ consumption plays a conspicuous role.  Veblen stated that people buy many products, not because these products provide a functional utility in their lives but because these products allow them to tell everybody else about their social rank. The price of one’s possessions, rather than the possessions themselves, is a good indicator of one’s status in society. This argument proposed by Veblen was developed by other social scientists who emphasized the role played by status-seeking in people’s behavior. For example, James Duesenberry, a well-known economist, proposed his relative-consumption hypothesis; i.e. people’s consumption is motivated by their relative standing rather than by their absolute needs. Duesenberry is well-known for his ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ view. People spend because they do not want to end up falling beh…