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GINI DP 38: Inequality and Happiness: A Survey

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  • Ada Ferrer-i-carbonell

    ()
    (Campus U.A.B., Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica, IAE(CSIC))

  • Ramos, X. (Xavier)

Abstract

In recent years there has been an accumulation of empirical evidence suggesting that individuals dislike inequality (Alesina and Giuliano, 2011 and Dawes et al., 2007). The literature has built upon estimating the degree of this dislike as well as its causes. The use of self-reported measures of satisfaction or well-being as a proxy for utility has been one of the empirical strategies used to this end. In this survey we review the papers that estimate or examine the relationship between inequality and self-reported happiness, and find that inequality reduces happiness in Western societies. The evidence for non-Western societies is more mixed and less reliable. Notwithstanding that, trust in the institutions seems to play an important role in shaping the relationship between income inequality and subjective wellbeing. We conclude with suggestions for further research.

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Paper provided by AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies in its series GINI Discussion Papers with number 38.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:aia:ginidp:38

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  1. Alesina, Alberto F & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Income distribution, happiness and satisfaction: A direct test of the interdependent preferences model," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 425-446, December.
  3. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-, September.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  6. Roland Bénabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Social Mobility And The Demand For Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 447-487, May.
  7. Hopkins, Ed, 2008. "Inequality, Happiness and Relative Concerns: What Actually is their Relationship?," SIRE Discussion Papers 2008-01, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  8. Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Pérez Truglia & Martín Tetaz, 2012. "Biased Perceptions of Income Distribution and Preferences for Redistribution: Evidence from a Survey Experiment," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0138, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  9. Angeletos, George-Marios & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Corruption, Inequality, and Fairness," Scholarly Articles 4553006, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Marc Sangnier, 2014. "Trust and the Welfare State: The Twin Peaks Curve," Working Papers halshs-01000117, HAL.
  11. 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.
  12. Paola Giuliano & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2009. "Growing Up in a Recession: Beliefs and the Macroeconomy," NBER Working Papers 15321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Ramos, Xavi, 2010. "Inequality Aversion and Risk Attitudes," IZA Discussion Papers 4703, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Irena Grosfeld & Claudia Senik, 2010. "The emerging aversion to inequality," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 18(1), pages 1-26, 01.
  15. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-22, September.
  16. Schwarze, Johannes & Harpfer, Marco, 2007. "Are people inequality averse, and do they prefer redistribution by the state?: Evidence from German longitudinal data on life satisfaction," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 233-249, April.
  17. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre & Sangnier, Marc, 2011. "Efficient and Inefficient Welfare States," CEPR Discussion Papers 8229, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Eggers, Andrew & Gaddy, Clifford & Graham, Carol, 2006. "Well-being and unemployment in Russia in the 1990s: Can society's suffering be individuals' solace?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 209-242, April.
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