Lifestyles through expenditures: A case-based approach to saving

Lisa A. Keister, Richard Benton, James Moody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-684
Number of pages35
JournalSociological Science
StatePublished - Aug 3 2016


  • Case-based social science
  • Cluster analysis
  • Lifestyles
  • Saving
  • Spending

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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