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Keeping up with the Schmidt`s – An Empirical Test of Relative Deprivation Theory in the Neighbourhood Context

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  • Gundi Knies
  • Simon Burgess
  • Carol Propper

Abstract

We test empirically whether people’s life satisfaction depends on their relative income position in the neighbourhood, drawing on a unique dataset, the German Socio-economic Panel Study (SOEP) matched with micro-marketing indicators of population characteristics. Relative deprivation theory suggests that individuals are happier the better their relative income position in the neighbourhood is. To test this theory we estimate micro-economic happiness models for the years 1994 and 1999 with controls for own income and for neighbourhood income at the zip-code level (roughly 9,000 people). There exist no negative and no statistically significant associations between neighbourhood income and life satisfaction, which refutes relative deprivation theory. If anything, we find positive associations between neighbourhood income and happiness in all cross-sectional models and this is robust to a number of robustness tests, including adding in more controls for neighbourhood quality, changing the outcome variable, and interacting neighbourhood income with indicators that proxy the extent to which individuals may be assumed to interact with their neighbours. We argue that the scale at which we measure neighbourhood characteristics may be too large still to identify the comparison effect sought after.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Duncker & Humblot, Berlin in its journal Schmollers Jahrbuch.

Volume (Year): 128 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 75-108

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Handle: RePEc:aeq:aeqsjb:v128_y2008_i1_q1_p75-108

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References

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  1. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gundi Knies & C. Katharina Spieß, 2007. "Regional Data in the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)," Data Documentation 17, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  6. Robert Drago & Mark Wooden & Yi-Ping Tseng, 2004. "Investigating the Role of Neighbourhood Characteristics in Determining Life Satisfaction," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  7. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. M. Sirgy & Terri Cornwell, 2002. "How Neighborhood Features Affect Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 59(1), pages 79-114, July.
  9. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  10. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  11. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Brodeur, Abel & Flèche, Sarah, 2013. "Where the Streets Have a Name: Income Comparisons in the US," IZA Discussion Papers 7256, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Lucinda Platt & Gundi Knies & Alita Nandi, 2014. "Life Satisfaction, Ethnicity and Neighbourhoods: Is There an Effect of Neighbourhood Ethnic Composition on Life Satisfaction?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1407, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. Eibich, Peter & Ziebarth, Nicolas, 2013. "Examining the Structure of Spatial Health Effects using Hierarchical Bayes Models," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79844, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  4. Gundi Knies, 2012. "Income Comparisons Among Neighbours and Satisfaction in East and West Germany," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 106(3), pages 471-489, May.
  5. Joerg Dittmann & Jan Goebel, 2010. "Your House, Your Car, Your Education: The Socioeconomic Situation of the Neighborhood and its Impact on Life Satisfaction in Germany," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 96(3), pages 497-513, May.
  6. Gundi Knies, 2010. "Income Comparisons among Neighbours and Life Satisfaction in East and West Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 298, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Holger Stichnoth, 2013. "Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2707-2717.

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