Johansson-Stenman, Olof, Peter Martinsson and Fredrik Carlsson. 2007. “Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods.” Economica 74:296: 586-598.
Although conventional economic theory proposes that only the absolute levels of income and consumption matter for people’s utility, there is much evidence that relative concerns are often important.
This paper uses a choice experiment to measure people’s perceptions of the degree to which such concerns matter, i.e. the degree of positionality. Based on a random sample in Sweden, income and cars are found to be highly positional, on average, in contrast to leisure and car safety. Leisure may even be completely non-positional. Potential policy implications are discussed.