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Relative to What or Whom? The Importance of Norms and Relative Standing to Well-Being in South Africa

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Author Info

  • Bookwalter, Jeffrey T.
  • Dalenberg, Douglas R.

Abstract

Summary Studies of relative standing and subjective well-being (SWB) consistently show a negative correlation between peer income and satisfaction. However, most investigate a single peer group in wealthy country. Using a South African household survey we model SWB using different measures of relative standing. Our results differ from most of the existing literature in two ways. First, they suggest that at low levels of income or expenditure--like most South Africans--the benefit of living among wealthier people outweighs the negatives of being the poorest of a peer group. In addition, we find achievement relative to one's parents is more important than the traditional emphasis on geographic peers.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 345-355

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Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:38:y:2010:i:3:p:345-355

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

Related research

Keywords: subjective well-being happiness relative income Africa South Africa;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dorrit Posel & Daniela Casale, 2011. "Relative standing and subjective well-being in South Africa: The role of perceptions, expectations and income mobility," Working Papers 210, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  2. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & Klaus F Zimmermann, 2011. "Relative Concerns of Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China," Working Papers 201104, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Akay, Alpaslan & Martinsson, Peter, 2012. "Positional Concerns through the Life Cycle: Evidence from Subjective Well-Being Data and Survey Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 6342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Alem, Yonas, 2014. "Life-Satisfaction in Urban Ethiopia: The Role of Relative Poverty and Unobserved Heterogeneity," Discussion Papers dp-14-04-efd, Resources For the Future.
  5. Akay, Alpaslan & Karabulut, Gökhan & Martinsson, Peter, 2011. "The Effect of Religiosity and Religious Festivals on Positional Concerns: An Experimental Investigation of Ramadan," IZA Discussion Papers 6172, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Alem, Yonas & Köhlin, Gunnar, 2012. "Life Satisfaction in Urban Ethiopia: Trends and determinants," Working Papers in Economics 548, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  7. Yonas Alem & Jonathan Colmer, 2013. "Don’t Worry, Be Happy: The Welfare Cost of Climate Variability – A Subjective Well-Being Approach," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 118, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  8. Li, Zhengtao & Folmer, Henk & Xue, Jianhong, 2014. "To what extent does air pollution affect happiness? The case of the Jinchuan mining area, China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 88-99.
  9. Cortés Aguilar Alexandra & Teresa Garcia-Muñoz & Ana I. Moro Egido, 2013. "Heterogeneous Self-employment and Subjective Well-Being. Evidence from Latin America," ThE Papers 13/05, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  10. Alem, Yonas, 2013. "Relative Standing and Life-Satisfaction: Does Unobserved Heterogeneity Matter?," Working Papers in Economics 579, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  11. Alem, Yonas & Colmer, Jonathan, 2014. "Optimal Expectations and the Welfare Cost of Climate Variability," Discussion Papers dp-14-03-efd, Resources For the Future.
  12. Aguilar, Alexandra Cortés & García Muñoz, Teresa M. & Moro-Egido, Ana I., 2013. "Heterogeneous self-employment and satisfaction in Latin America," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 44-61.
  13. Dorrit Posel & Daniela Casale, 2011. "Relative Standing and Subjective Well-Being in South Africa: The Role of Perceptions, Expectations and Income Mobility," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 195-223, November.

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