Talk:Veblen good

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very nicely written..

The above added by anon in November 2005.

I have reverted the edit on the definition of the counter-Veblen effect. In the counter-Veblen effect, preference increases as price FALLS. This has to be true since the counter-Veblen effect has to be the opposite of the Veblen effect. And, if it isn't pulling rank unfairly, could I point out that I am one third of Lea, Tarpy & Webley (1987), who coined the term, and I do know what we said! seglea 22:22, 19 July 2006 (UTC)


Is it reasonable to say that Veblen "invented the concepts of conspicuous consumption and status-seeking."? It seems that such concepts have existed for about as long as economies have, so perhaps "recognized" would be a better term? - Flooey 20:50, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

"the counter-Veblen effect, in which preference for a good increases as its price falls."

Yeah. That "counter-Veblen effect" is pretty much econ 101. Price goes down, quantity demanded goes up. Let's not attribute too much genius to the guy.Template:Unknown user

Read the article! The counter-Veblen effect is NOT econ101. Like all the other "interaction" effects, it's an effect over and above what you'd expect from the simple effects of price on demand. seglea 17:19, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Veblen goods[edit]

The collective noun goods is never used in the singular. This article should be renamed to Veblen goods. RichBerry 13:00, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

My econ dictionary has "economic good", so you are wrong that it is never singular, plus all our other articles use the singular. Martin 09:42, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
When I wrote "the collective noun goods is never used in the singular" I was quoting the Wiktionary definition found here. I have also referenced the Oxford English dictionary's definition of good which is too long and comprehensive to be quoted directly. Suffice to say that I could find no definition of "good" as an item of merchandise.
Perhaps I can garner support for my position by way of example. If I were to phone in response to a car boot sale classified advertisement in the newspaper, I would not be surprised if the organiser would wish to know what type of goods I have for sale. My response could be either in the plural or the singular.
In the plural I would use a term like "general household goods".
In the singular I would say something like "I only have one item for sale, a sewing machine".
RichBerry 11:13, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
RichBerry is right about everyday speech, but wrong about technical economic discourse, where it would be normal to say something like, "a solid gold Cadillac would be a Veblen good". Since this article has technical economic content, the singular title is appropriate. seglea 17:16, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't want to be argumentative for the sake of it, but why should it be accepted in technical conversation and documentation when there are better alternatives? An alternative I would prefer is "A solid gold Cadillac can be classified as Veblen goods".
I prefer the second example because it is both logical and descriptive:
  • Logical in that a solid gold cadillac remains a solid gold Cadillac, no matter how you classify it. The first example implies that the Cadillac undergoes a change.
  • Descriptive in that the process is stated. I am classifying this product, not modifying it.
Regards RichBerry 12:04, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Naming_conventions#Prefer_singular_nouns says In general only create page titles that are in the singular, unless that noun is always in a plural form in English (such as scissors or trousers). Martin 12:38, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you Martin. That is exactly the position I am taking. I don't think that anyone is arguing that the word "goods", used on its own, does not fall into the same category as scissors or trousers. The problem is that there is the opinion that when goods has an adjective, as in Giffen goods or durable goods, that somehow the rule no longer applies. My position is that the word should always be used in the plural, even when used in conjunction with an adjective.
I am aware that using goods in the singular is common, however, this does not mean that it is correct. The word "your" is commonly used incorrectly too, (as in "Your going to be sorry") but that does not mean that we use it this way in our articles. In fact, I have seen instances of it being corrected where it has been used incorrectly. RichBerry 13:31, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

"I don't think that anyone is arguing that the word "goods", used on its own, does not fall into the same category as scissors or trousers.", well, actually it doesn't, that is exactly the point, the word "good" is perfectly common, the wiktionary is incorrect to say it is not (my economics dictionary defines the term "good"). The example of "Your" is an example of incorrect English, using "Veblen good" is not incorrect at all. The guideline clearly says "unless that noun is always in a plural form", the is most definately not the case. Martin 13:41, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
I used the example of "your" because I would equate the way goods is used in the singular with the way your is used to mean "you're". They are both confusion between similar words with different meanings. The Wiktionary and the Oxford English dictionary state that goods is always plural, the one is explicit and the other states it by omission. Martin, would you mind posting the ISBN reference of your economics dictionary, I'd be interested in trying to find a copy in the library?
Allow me to attempt a different approach. I feel so strongly that the use of "good" to describe an item (unless referring to its condition) is incorrect English that I am moved to edit out the word used in this way in the relevant articles. Does anyone object to me doing so if I can make the changes without altering the content or meaning? I will also leave the article name and the first reference as is for now.
If anyone objects, please state the basis for your objection. If anyone feels the need for mediation then I am happy to comply.
I have already started with the Common good article because of the confusion with the philanthropical meaning. I intend to continue tomorrow, since it is nearly the end of my Irish day, but I will check this discussion before I proceed.
By the way. I am also LittleOldMe. This is not a sock puppet attempt. I have requested a name change to LittleOldMe. I am using RichBerry in this conversation for consistency. All other edits will be under my new name.RichBerry 16:31, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Penguin Dictionary of Economics, ISBN 0140513760. Please do not go changing the plurals until the matter is resolved. thanks Martin 17:03, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Also, for what it's worth, a google of "Economic good" returns 259,000 results and "Economic goods" 172,000. Martin 17:08, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Please, RichBerry, do not go changing these articles. Singular "good" simply is not wrong in technical writing about economics; in fact, using the plural form to mean the singular, in the way we do in everyday speech, often would be wrong in the technical context.
"The household is endowed with resources, R, which it allocates to the consumption of the conspicuous and inconspicuous goods. Let x(q) denote the quantity purchased of the conspicuous good with quality q...
and so on throughout. This is simply the first article I picked out about Veblen goods; you would have got the same result with any other.

I'm not saying Wikipedia should be a tyranny of the experts. Much of the good work that is done on the project is done by amateurs (including almost all the editing I do, incidentally - I edit on Wikipedia for fun, and I try to keep away from the topics I work on all day). But if we want to be respected, we really mustn't violate the conventions of technical discourse in the fields we are writing about. seglea 21:58, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

I have no problem with that. Part of the reason I became a Wikipedian is that I learn new things. So, thanks, to all, for the replies. Up until this last reply, I remained skeptical. However, you have presented a convincing argument in favour of the status quo.
For the record, I had no intention of violating conventions, I was convinced that I was upholding them. Also for the record, I cannot imagine that I will ever be comfortable with using "good". Fortunately, the subjects I write about professionally only touch superficially on economics.
Regards RichBerry 10:03, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

I imagine that "good" is really being used to justify someone's own personal eccentric usage. Thank god for traditional grammar books (yes, I meant "god" to be singular; no, "grammar" does not have an 'E'). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:36, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm a latecomer to this discussion, but it seems reasonably clear that 'good' in the singular stemmed from a misuse that has been successfully rationalised. The result is that it's actually managed to make some headway on the Internet as a correct usage. As mentioned above, it's not correct, but it is undeniably - and unfortunately - common enough that it isn't going to go away. Yes, it looks ignorant, and sounds clumsy, but these reactions are likely to fade over time as more and more people get used to seeing it. I'd much prefer to see this article corrected, but if it hasn't happened in six or seven years, it isn't going to happen now.

And I think you meant 'thank God'. You used the word as a name, so it carries a capital. Yes, I'm correcting someone's 2008 punctuation in 2013. Yes, I need to find a hobby. - (talk) 09:19, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

"Counter-Veblen effect"[edit]

The "counter-Veblen effect" mentioned in this article seems to be either a protologism or a neologism. According to WP:NEO we should avoid them if there's no reliable secondary sources about them. None are cited, a Google search doesn't give any mentions of the term outside Wikipedia mirrors, and the term is not even defined. I can imagine how pleased the anti-Wikipedia lobby would become if they found out that something like this has survived here for, oh, three years? - ulayiti (talk) 08:03, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Google is not a useful tool for technical terms, there are plenty of things it will not define, yet are key concepts in economics and science in general. The fact is that a reference is cited for a book that does exist. Martin 09:19, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
Anyway, google does find a mention of it, here. Martin 09:26, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

It does seems strange to raise counter-Veblen:

* the counter-Veblen effect, in which preference for goods increases as their price falls. The first two of these, and the Veblen effect, are discussed in a classic article by Leibenstein (1950). The concept of the counter-Veblen effect is less well known, although it logically completes the family; it was introduced by Lea et al (1987).

I mean, that's just describing the normal operation of the elasticity of demand. To refer to a property that will apply to almost any normal commodity by noting that it is counter to a small group of commodities that behave strangely seems perverse in the extreme. Ordinary Person 01:24, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

I think the effect being referred to is the "conspicuous thrift" effect. This is not the normal preference for a cheaper good because it will cost you less money; it is the preference for a cheaper good because being seen to use it will increase your reputation (as a thrifty person, or as a faithful member of your social class). For instance, if there were two goods which for your purposes had equal quality, and one was well-known to be cheaper, and you were offered either one for free, which one would you pick? Since both are free, the only effects in this case are Veblen and counter-Veblen. Homunq (talk) 17:10, 13 October 2008 (UTC)


A nice example can be found in the article Cult wine:

"on several occasions we have had difficulty selling wines at $75, but as soon as we raise the price to $125 they sell out and get put on allocation"

Cape crusaders. Decanter, June, 2006, pages 90 & 92. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:32, 29 April 2007 (UTC).

Theoretically Possible in Micro-Economics?[edit]

It may well be the case that Veblen Goods are only a theoretical proposition in Economics but they are well attested in sociology generally (see La Distinction / Pierre Bourdieu) so perhaps a little re-wording is in order. Rykalski 12:57, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Also known as...[edit]

I remember hearing them refered to as snob goods or luxury goods before, but this may have been dumbed down in an introductory texxtbook.--AleXd (talk) 15:30, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

New Neuropsych study[edit]

But not sure whether to add as appropriate reference. Here is the "raw" link:

"Neural Mechanisms of Social Influence in Consumer Decisions," by Gregory Berns, C. Monica Capra, Sara Moore, and Charles Noussair.

The study may be unique in that the data is sourced physiologically, as opposed to only behaviorally. In any case Veblen's theory of conspicuous/invidious/emulative consumption is broader than the simple term "Veblen Good" and its dictionary definition would imply. There was an implicit general theory of intrinsic valuation that was contained in his economics that, as is well-known, was difficult to infer by nature of his writing. It might certainly be beyond the scope of merely the "Veblen Good" wiki page to expand on that, but the fact that Veblen recognized such exchanges as the naturally-occurring counterexamples to the simplifying assumptions we still find underlying today's most well-accepted general theories (e.g. rational expectations, marginal utility, capital aggregation, equilibrium) makes the "Veblen Good" more than just a peculiar footnote from an eccentric American economist. Veblen is often dismissed as merely another sociologist but recent events in credit markets should remind us that modern finance and macroeconomic theory 100 years later is still no different. Neurological evidence is surely controversial but in terms of helping economic policy decisions become scientific as opposed to merely logical - as was Veblen's broad intent - one can hardly imagine a more pertinent exhibit...? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:47, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Apple products[edit]

Do Apple products really qualify as Veblen goods? As a computer programmer, I think that a) the perceived premium is just that, a perception, and b) Aesthetics and underlying design are not zero-value things to me. -- 19:12, 18 June 2009

I'm not sure, but the link there goes to fruit apples, not computers. I'll remove it. Somebody can replace it if they feel they answer the question...Mvblair (talk) 23:09, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't have any sales figures handy, but I'm pretty sure that the lower priced iMacs and MacBooks handily outsell the more expensive Mac Pros and MacBook Pros. That kind of disqualifies them for Veblen good status, no? Phcordner (talk) 04:58, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Working for an Apple Specialist, I feel qualified to state that yes, we do sell far more of the 13" laptops and the iMacs than we do servers, workstations, and so forth. I don't have Apple's own numbers, of course. I think the idea with the original post was to claim that they are luxury priced in comparison to other brands, a la Microsoft's "Laptop Hunter" ads, but that point of argument isn't something that belongs on this page. I've gone ahead and removed the link... again. We seem to have a single-minded group of users bent on keeping it here. Jeremy Avalon (talk) 21:18, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I would think in general if there are plenty of good non-controversial examples on a topic, the policy should be to avoid adding or replacing existing examples with controversial ones. -- (talk) 22:37, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

I changed it to

Some types of high-status goods, such as diamonds, designer handbags and luxury cars, are Veblen goods

diamonds should probably changed to a consumer product to make it more clear, someone who knows more can select 3 representative, non-controversial examples and switch it. PirateArgh!!1! 11:02, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Diamonds have other applications than jewelry (due to the hardness of the crystal), so they would probably follow the law of demand at lower costs. If there are no objections I will change it in a couple days. Rboesch (talk) 10:08, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

If you are going to mention apple you should probably include the I am rich app for iPad and phone. (talk) 03:36, 4 March 2011 (UTC)


The first sentence: "In economics, Veblen goods are a theoretical group of commodities for which peoples' preference for buying them increases as a direct function of their price, instead of decreasing according to the law of demand." is wrong. The fundamental property of Veblen goods is that utility is a function not only of their quantity but also of their price (an increasing function of their price). This does not mean that the actual demand will respond positively to price, if the good is not Giffen and the Veblen effect is small. Besides, the law of demand does not say that preference for buying a good decreases when its price increases, but that the quantity demanded decreases; there's no direct effect of prices on utility. Two different things (whether the utility function depends on prices and how demand depends on prices) are mixed up. (talk) 18:13, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Agency-passthroughs (i.e FNMA 5%)[edit]

Can someone add a wikilink and an aside so this makes sense? FNMA links to Fannie Mae. Why is "Agency" capitalized?

Mortgage backed securities, more specifically Agency-passthroughs (i.e FNMA 5%) exhibit many of the same characteristics of Veblen goods.

PirateArgh!!1! 10:50, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

Related concepts section[edit]

I don't know why the bottle of champagne is pictured here. I presume it is intended to be an example of either a Veblen good or one of the other concepts described in this section. However, I feel the caption is inadequate to explain which.

I don't know enough about this good to improve the caption myself, and deliberately I have not looked up the article to attempt to discover why (although actually the links are to the maker and to the type of champagne so I am not sure I would find out anyway). I imagine it is expensive; but that of itself is not illustrative of anything in the text (or if it is, it does not say which or why).

I'd hope someone with better knowledge than I could improve the caption, or, in the alternate, remove the picture.

Best wishes Si Trew (talk) 19:09, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

VW Phaeton / Bentley Flying Spur[edit]

How do these relate to the example at the end of the article? Same car underneath, double the cost for the Bentley... —Preceding unsigned comment added by HiraV (talkcontribs) 16:54, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

You get what you paid for[edit]

I'm considering adding the following text below the snob and bandwagon effects.

But are there any reliable sources documenting the prevalence of this proverb? --Damian Yerrick (talk) 21:59, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

For the record, I found Common law of business balance. --Damian Yerrick (talk) 15:39, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
So should the redirect You get what you pay for be retargeted there? --SoledadKabocha (talk) 22:00, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Incoherent sentence[edit]

What is this trying to say? There's a word missing somewhere, and it makes no sense: why would a "Veblen-seeker" buy a non-luxury item of lower quality? "At the other end of the spectrum, where luxury items priced equal to non-luxury items of lower quality, all else being equal more people would buy the luxury items, even though a few Veblen-seekers would not." Jpatokal (talk) 22:31, 10 January 2013 (UTC)