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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Turning "Citizens" into "Consumers": Economic Growth and the Level of Public Discourse

  • Author(s): Skaperdas, Stergios
  • et al.

Over the past half century the term consumer has gained over that of citizen in designating the adult population of the West. Over the same period, it has also been argued that a number of measures of public discourse have declined. I try to make sense of this trend using a formal model in which public discourse is treated as a collective good that requires time. I show that economic growth is typically associated with reductions in public discourse. Moreover, increases in material welfare can be associated with enough reduction in public discourse so that individual welfare can decline with economic growth.

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