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Department of Economics, WU (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien) Growth and Employment in Europe: Sustainability and Competitiveness, Department of Economics, WU (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien)

No 29:
Social norms and equality of opportunity in conspicuous consumption: on the diffusion of consumer good innovation.

Andreas Reinstaller () and Bulat Sanditov ()

Abstract: This paper presents a simple evolutionary model to study the diffusion patterns of product innovations for consumer goods. Following a Veblenian theme, we interpret consumption as a social activity constrained by social norms and equality of opportunity. Societies that allow for more behavioral variety will experience faster adoption of new consumer goods. We also find that the speed of diffusion as well as the saturation levels reached highly depend on the equality of opportunity. Combining these two effects, we conclude that a social structure displaying behavioral variety and equal opportunities dominates any other social set-up in terms of the speed of adoption of product innovations.

Keywords: Conspicuous consumption; consumption dynamics; diffusion of consumer goods; social norms; equality of opportunity; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D11; O31; (follow links to similar papers)

July 2003

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