Consumption of market goods and wellbeing in small-scale societies: An empirical test among the Tsimane' in the Bolivian Amazon

Elena Masferrer-Dodas, Luis Rico-Garcia, Tomás Huanca, Victoria Reyes-García

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11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Researchers propose sustainable degrowth as an alternative economic model to face current environmental crisis. Standard economic theory criticizes the viability of degrowth under the assumption that there is a causal link between wellbeing and the consumption of goods and services. Here we test the universality of the association between human wellbeing and the consumption of market goods (a standard indicator of economic growth) using a unique body of data collected among 600 adults in a small-scale foraging-horticultural society in the Bolivian Amazon, the Tsimane'. Data include two measures of consumption (weekly expenditures and annual consumption of durables) and two measures of wellbeing (self-reported wellbeing and frequency of smiles). Multivariate analyses suggest that, for this society in the early stages of integration to the market economy, consumption of market goods is not associated with wellbeing. The result is robust to the two measures of wellbeing, to the measurement of consumption at the individual and at the household level, and to other changes in the estimation model. The analysis provides support to one of the social premises in which the theory of sustainable degrowth is based: that human wellbeing does not necessarily bear a direct link with consumption of market goods. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-220
JournalEcological Economics
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Income
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Sustainable degrowth
  • Wellbeing

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