The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 259–270 | Cite as

Black-White Differences in Consumption: An Update and Some Policy Implications



Marcus Alexis, in his Ph. D. dissertation and in later published work, conducted pioneering work in the area of black-white differences in consumption behavior and thereby influenced our understanding of household behavior and significantly impacted the field of marketing. This paper recapitulates his findings and reviews some contemporary work on black-white differences in consumption and some implications for future work on differences in consumption behavior.


Marcus Alexis Consumption behavior Racial differences Hispanic consumers Joseph Houchins Survey of Consumer Finance 


  1. Alexis M. Racial differences in consumption and automobile ownership. Unpublished Ph. D. university of Minnesota: University of Minnesota; 1959a.Google Scholar
  2. Alexis M. Pathways to the negro market. J Negro Educ. 1959b;28:114–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexis M. The changing consumer market: 1935–1959. J Mark. 1962;26:421–46.Google Scholar
  4. Alexis M. Patterns of black consumption 1935–1960. J Black Stud. 1970a;1:55–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alexis M. Review of D. Parke Gibson, the $30 billion negro. J Cons Affairs. 1970b;4:135.Google Scholar
  6. Alexis M. Some negro-white differences in consumption. In: Joyce G, Govoni NAP, editors. The black consumer. New York: Random House; 1971a. p. 257–74.Google Scholar
  7. Alexis M. Wealth accumulation of black and white families: the empirical evidence: discussion. J Financ. 1971b;26:458–65.Google Scholar
  8. Ayres I, Siegelman P. Race and gender discrimination in bargaining for a new car. Am Econ Rev. 1995;85:304–21.Google Scholar
  9. Berger J, Ward M. Subtle signals and inconspicuous consumption. J Cons Res. 2010;37:555–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brady DS, Friedman RD. Savings and the income distribution. In: Studies in income and wealth. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research; 1947. p. 247–65.Google Scholar
  11. Chambers J. Madison avenue and the color line: african americans in the advertising industry, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), 2008.Google Scholar
  12. Charles K, Hurst E, Roussanov N. Conspicuous consumption and race. 2007. National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper WP No. 13392Google Scholar
  13. Charles K, Hurst E, Roussanov N. Conspicuous consumption and race. QJEcon. 2009;124:425–67.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, M.A. Report on the racial impact of AHFC’s finance charge markup policy: in the matter of Terry Willis, et al., v. American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC), June 30, 2004, accessed 12/30/13
  15. Croson R, Eckel C, Murdoch J. RAPID: the impact of stimulus spending on energy efficiency in a low-income Dallas neighborhood: implications for science policy. National Science Foundation #SES-0943449, 7/31/2011.Google Scholar
  16. Davis JF. Realizing marketplace opportunity; early research on the black consumer market by mainstream marketers, 1930–1970. CHARM 2011 Proceedings.Google Scholar
  17. Drucker PF. Adventures of a bystander, (Edison: transaction publishers). 1994.Google Scholar
  18. Duesenberry JS. Income, saving and the theory of consumer behavior. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 1949.Google Scholar
  19. Ebony Magazine. Why negroes buy cadillacs. (September 1946), p. 34.Google Scholar
  20. Friedman M. A theory of the consumption function. (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1957.Google Scholar
  21. Friend I, Schor S. Who saves? Rev Econ Stat. 1959;41:213–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gibson, DC. The $30 billion negro. (New York: Macmillan), 1969.Google Scholar
  23. Kiplinger Magazine. 14 million negro customers: business can learn to its profit that Uncle Remus is dead. April 1947; 1:4.Google Scholar
  24. Klein LR, Katona G, Lansing JB, Morgan JN. Contributions of survey methods to economics, (New York: Columbia university press). 1954.Google Scholar
  25. Klein LR, Mooney HW. Negro-white savings differentials and the consumption function problem. Econometrica. 1953;21:425–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Koyen J. The truth about hispanic consumers. Ad Week, March 11, 2012.
  27. McKernan S-M, Ratcliffe C, Simms M, Zhang S. Do racial disparities in private transfers help explain the racial wealth gap? New evidence from longitudinal data. Demography. 2014;51:949–74.Google Scholar
  28. Mendershausen H. Differences in family savings between cities of different size and location, whites and negroes. Rev Econ Stat. 1940;22:122–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tide. The negro market: an appraisal, 21 (March 7, 1947).Google Scholar
  30. Tide. Selling the negro market, 25 (July 20, 1951).Google Scholar
  31. Tobin J. Relative income, absolute income, and savings, in money, trade, and economic growth, in honor of John Henry Williams (New York: Macmillan Co., 1951), pp. 135–156.Google Scholar
  32. U.S. Department of Justice. Justice news, Office of Public Affairs, December 20, 2013Google Scholar
  33. U.S. National Resources Committee. Consumer incomes in the United States: their distribution in 1935–1936. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1938.Google Scholar
  34. U.S. National Resources Committee. Consumer expenditures in the United States: estimates for 1935–1936. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1939.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations