Sunday, February 20, 2011

An economic theory of hipsters

These days people hate hipsters.  I hate hipsters.  But what is a hipster, and more importantly why is a hipster, is a question I have recently unraveled.  Allow me to explain.  There is an economic reason why hipsters exist, and there is a good reason why you hate these jerks.

The main cause of hipsters is unemployment and underemployment.  Hipsters are by and large a group that went to college.  Their job prospects post college have been slim, and they are largely unemployed or underemployed.

This is a group that also faced large borrowing costs to get that college degree.

"To swing this without hitting the lottery, you're going to need a job that pays far more than the minimum wage. One estimate, according to a calculator at, is an annual salary of $42,000, assuming you use 10% of your monthly gross for loan payments."

The tastes of hipsters is directly attributed to these grim economic realities.  What is vintage thrifting but a pretentious way of shopping like a poor person?  Isn't the hipster beard but an arrogant cost saving device?  Saving money on razors and making fun of truck drivers at the same time.

So then to answer the question what is a hipster I would argue a hipster is a person part of the great college wave from the last 10-15 years that is economically marginalized and maintains absurd pretensions regarding their poverty.  They moved into the inner city looking for cheap rents but dressed it up as a search for "authenticity".  They started taking public transportation as an economic necessity but dressed it up as green living.  They indulge in Pabst Blue Ribbon because it is cheap beer but say that they like it "ironically".  And this is why no one admits to being a hipster.  And this is why, despite their plight, you won't feel sorry for hipsters.

If hipsters had money they'd live in a McMansion in the suburbs, drive a hummer, and buy expensive new clothing.  But they don't so they shop at Goodwill, live in "gentrifying" inner city neighborhoods, and take public transportation.  And they are pretentious about it.

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