NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Expenditure Visibility and Consumer Behavior: New Evidence

Ori Heffetz

NBER Working Paper No. 25161
Issued in October 2018
NBER Program(s):Economics of Aging, Public Economics

Expenditure visibility—the extent to which a household’s spending on a consumption category is noticeable to others—is measured in three new surveys, with ~3,000 telephone and online respondents. Visibility shows little change across time (ten years) and survey methods. Four different notions, or dimensions, of visibility are measured: the noticeability of above-average spending on a category; that of below-average spending; and the positivity/negativity of impressions made by above- and below-average spending. Jointly, these visibility measures explain up to three quarters or more of the observed variation in total-expenditure elasticities across consumption categories in U.S. data. Possible theoretical explanations are explored.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25161

 
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