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Attitude Choice, Economic Change, and Welfare

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journal contribution
posted on 05.06.2017 by Ng, Yew-Kwang, Wang, Jianguo
As supported by commonsense and substantial evidence (discussed in Sections 1 and 2), one's attitude toward wealth may affect utility and people can, at least to some extent and at some costs, choose their attitudes. Using a very simple model of attitude choice (Section 3) and analysing the comparative-static effects of some economic changes (Section 4), this paper shows that individuals with high/low incomes tend to adopt an attitude emphasizing the importance of material consumption more/less. Economic growth unambiguously increases the utility of the rich (unless the generation of growth itself is too costly) by increasing both their income and the prevailing materialistic attitude. It has an ambiguous effect on the poor as it makes them better off through a higher income level but worse off through a higher prevailing materialistic attitude.

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Year of first publication

1999

Series

Department of Economics

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