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 27: Vanity, family and migration

C. Simon Fan

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


When I was a college student, I read the following article entitled 'The Double Life of Alfred Bloggs' from an English textbook, which motivates this section. These days, people who do manual work often receive far more money than clerks who work in offices. People who work in offices are frequently referred to as 'white collar workers' for the simple reason that they usually wear a collar and tie to go to work. Such is human nature, that a great many people are often willing to sacrifice higher pay for the privilege of becoming white collar workers. This can give rise to curious situations, as it did in the case of Alfred Bloggs who worked as a dustman for the Ellesmere Corporation. When he got married, Alf was too embarrassed to say anything to his wife about his job. He simply told her that he worked for the Corporation. Every morning, he left home dressed in fine black suit. He then changed into overalls and spent the next eight hours as a dustman. Before returning home at night, he took a shower and changed back into his suit. Alf did this for over two years and his fellow dustmen kept his secret. Alf's wife has never discovered that she married a dustman and she never will, for Alf has just found another job. He will soon be working in an office as a junior clerk. He will be earning only half as much as he used to, but he feels that his rise in status is well worth the loss of money.

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