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Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey

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  • Luigino Bruni
  • Luca Stanca

Abstract

This paper investigates the role of television in producing higher material aspirations, by enhancing both adaptation and positional effects. Using a large sample of individuals from the World Values Survey, we find that the effect of income on both life and financial satisfaction is significantly smaller for heavy television viewers than for occasional viewers. This finding is robust to a number of specification checks and alternative interpretations. The results suggest an additional explanation for the income-happiness paradox: the pervasive and increasing role of television viewing in contemporary society, by raising material aspirations, contributes to offset the effect of higher income on individual happiness. Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 59 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 209-225

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:59:y:2006:i:2:p:209-225

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  1. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  2. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1978. "Economic Growth and Social Welfare: The Need for a Complete Study of Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 575-87.
  3. Bruni, Luigino & Stanca, Luca, 2008. "Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 506-528, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
  6. O'Guinn, Thomas C & Shrum, L J, 1997. " The Role of Television in the Construction of Consumer Reality," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 278-94, March.
  7. 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.
  8. Corneo, Giacomo, 2001. "Work and Television," IZA Discussion Papers 376, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. David Neumark & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995. "Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment," NBER Working Papers 5044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  11. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
  12. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Testing Theories of Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 147, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  15. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. TV & happiness
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-12-18 14:30:34
  2. Happiness vs preferences
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-09-16 14:20:54
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