David Jinkins writes:
The objective of this paper is to measure the relative importance of conspicous consumption to Americans and Chinese. To this end, I estimate the parameters of a utility function borrowed from recent theoretical work using American and Chinese data. The main parameter of interest governs the amount that individuals care about peer group beliefs regarding their welfare. Using survey data on the visibility of different good categories along with household budget surveys, I find that Chinese consumers care twice as much as American consumers about the beliefs of their peer group.
I came across this draft research manuscript by following the links back after Jinkins commented on our blog. The framing of the paper is a bit more foundation-y and a bit less statistic-y than I’d prefer, but I guess that’s just the way they do things in economics, compared to statistics or (some) political science. In any case, I wanted to point you to this paper, partly to let you know that I do read the blog comments and even sometimes follow the links, and also because it’s unusually well-written, not just in its first paragraph but all the way through. He’s got to work a bit on his presentation of results—I see some ugly tables there—but I think that’s much easier to learn than it is to learn how to write.