(Deceptive) status seeking strategies in France and Tunisia

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14 January 2014

We contend that consumption of a given status conveying good frequently follows a Kuznets-like curve. Concretely, the consumption of a given status marker first increases with the level of income per capita, reaches a maximum and then decreases at higher levels of income. Moreover, globalization has led to a greater homogenization of status markers across societies. Given severe budget constraints in developing countries and lax enforcement of intellectual property rights, we contend that people are more likely to use deceptive status signaling strategies with a strong desire to keep up with the “Joneses” located in developed countries. We investigate empirically what strategies are used in Tunisia and France to satisfy some status needs. Using survey data in Tunisia and France, we show that Tunisian students are more likely to adopt deceptive status signals by consuming fakes compared to French students. We also identify in each context the determinants of purchase intention of genuine status conferring goods. We emphasize some policy implications.