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The Consumption Aspirations of Adolescents: Determinants and Implications

This paper examines the determinants of consumption and consumption aspirations among young adults, emphasizing the influence of the parental family. The data show that adolescent ownership and consumption aspirations bear little relationship to parental income, contrary to the well-known Easterlin hypothesis, which posits parental economic status as the major determinant of their adolescents' consumption aspirations. A large proportion of the sample had their own car, television, and stereo; such ownership was positively and significantly related to consumption aspirations. Data from a similarly-aged sample (Monitoring the Future) shows that adolescents today earn considerable sums while still in high school and spend most of it on personal consumption. The consumption they enjoy from their earnings is, in turn, a likely determinant of their consumption aspirations.