Table of Contents

Vanity Economics

Vanity Economics

An Economic Exploration of Sex, Marriage and Family

C. Simon Fan

This book presents an accessible and sometimes controversial economic exploration of numerous issues surrounding sex, marriage and family. It analyzes the role of ‘vanity’, defined as social status and self-esteem, in social and economic behaviors.

Chapter 18: The value of time in consumption and population theory

C. Simon Fan

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, institutional economics


Chapter 17 introduced a new concept, the 'conspicuous career', which refers to the vanity many people obtain from their jobs. The nature of work has changed over time. Many now find their jobs pleasant and often spend long hours working. In this chapter, we discuss the value of time from another perspective: its role in consumption activities. In modern societies, many people are both busy at work and hectic in life. While many are obsessed with material possessions, they also find time itself to be extremely valuable, not only for work and career pursuit but also for consumption. For example, if one wants to go to a theatre to see a play or to travel abroad, one requires both sufficient free time and enough money. Time becomes increasingly valuable in consumption mainly due to the continuing expansion in the varieties of consumption goods. In particular, the development of the service industry is providing more ways for people to enjoy life. However, time input is almost always necessary for one to enjoy these services. The following offers some examples. With the continuous development of air transportation, an increasing number of people can now afford to travel to different places for sightseeing. However, travelling requires both money and time. In the small Hong Kong district of Causeway Bay, thousands of restaurants provide enormous varieties of food that cater to all types of consumers. However, one requires a great amount of time to dine in even a small fraction of the restaurants in this tiny district alone.

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