Paul Lachine

Demokratische Ungleichheit

CHICAGO: Warum ist die Sparquote der privaten Haushalte in den USA vor der großen Rezession so steil abgestürzt? Zwei meiner Kollegen an der Universität von Chicago, Marianne Bertrand und Adair Morse, haben eine verblüffende Antwort auf diese Frage: die wachsende Ungleichheit beim Einkommen.

Bertrand und Morse stellten fest, dass in Gegenden (normalerweise US-Bundesstaaten), in denen der Konsum in den Jahren vor der Krise bei den Haushalten im obersten Fünftel der Einkommensverteilung besonders hoch war, auch der Konsum bei Haushalten mit niedrigerem Einkommen hoch war. Nachdem sie eine Anzahl möglicher Erklärungen hierfür ausgeschlossen hatten, kamen die beiden zu dem Schluss, dass ärmere Haushalte die Konsummuster der reicheren Haushalte in ihrer Gegend nachahmten.

Entsprechend der Vorstellung, dass Haushalte mit niedrigerem Einkommen mit den Reichen mithalten wollen, neigten die in der Nähe ausgabefreudiger wohlhabender Konsumenten lebenden nicht so Reichen (aber nicht wirklich Armen) dazu, mehr für Dinge auszugeben, die normalerweise reichere Haushalte konsumieren – Schmuck, Beauty und Fitness, haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen. Tatsächlich nahmen viele Kredite auf, um ihre Ausgaben zu finanzieren. Das Ergebnis war, dass der Anteil ärmerer Haushalte, die in finanziellen Schwierigkeiten steckten oder Konkurs anmelden mussten, in Gegenden, in denen die Reichen mehr verdienten (und ausgaben), deutlich höher war. Ohne diesen nachahmenden Konsum hätten die nicht so reichen Haushalte in den letzten Jahren im Durchschnitt mehr als 800 Dollar gespart.

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