Vanity economics : an economic exploration of sex, marriage and family

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Edward Elgar


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

In Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption, vanity is associated with the consumption of luxuries such as expensive handbags and cars. In this book, C. Simon Fan provocatively argues that vanity is obtained by having a spouse and children with perceived ‘high-quality’ values, for example, a beautiful wife, a tall husband or intelligent offspring. He demonstrates from various perspectives that vanity plays a crucial role in male–female relationships and intergenerational relationships. In doing so, he challenges the conventional frontier of economics and contributes to other social sciences.

This unique book will appeal to the educated general reader and interested academic alike.



Recommended Citation

Fan, C. S. (2014). Vanity economics: An economic exploration of sex, marriage and family. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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