Lifestyles through Expenditures: A Case-Based Approach to Saving

Lisa A. Keister, Richard Benton, James Moody

Sociological Science, August 3, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a28

Treating people as cases that are proximate in a behavior space—representing lifestyles—rather than as markers of single variables has a long history in sociology. Yet, because it is difficult to find analytically tractable ways to implement this idea, this approach is rarely used. We take seriously the idea that people are whole packages, and we use household spending to identify groups who occupy similar positions in social space. Using detailed data on household consumption, we identify eight positions that are clearly similar in lifestyle. We then study how the lifestyles we identify are associated with saving, an important measure of household well-being. We find that households cluster into distinct lifestyles based on similarities and differences in consumption. These lifestyles are meaningfully related in social space and save in distinct ways that have important implications for understanding inequality and stratification.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Lisa A. Keister: Department of Sociology, Duke University

Richard Benton: School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois

James Moody: Department of Sociology, Duke University

Acknowledgements: Direct correspondence to Lisa A. Keister at 268 Sociology-Psychology Building, Box 90088, Durham, NC 27708. Keister acknowledges a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES-1322738), and Moody acknowledges a grant the National Institutes of Health (HD075712-01) that supported this research. We are grateful for comments from David Diehl, Achim Edelmann, and Hang Young Lee.

  • Citation: Keister, Lisa A., Richard Benton, and James Moody. 2016. “Lifestyles through Expenditures: A Case-Based Approach to Saving.” Sociological Science 3: 650-684.
  • Received: March 17, 2016
  • Accepted: April 12, 2016
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Olav Sorenson
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a28

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