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Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is there any Evidence of Satiation?

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  • Betsey Stevenson
  • Justin Wolfers

Abstract

Many scholars have argued that once “basic needs” have been met, higher income is no longer associated with higher in subjective well-being. We assess the validity of this claim in comparisons of both rich and poor countries, and also of rich and poor people within a country. Analyzing multiple datasets, multiple definitions of “basic needs” and multiple questions about well-being, we find no support for this claim. The relationship between well-being and income is roughly linear-log and does not diminish as incomes rise. If there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4222.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4222

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Keywords: subjective well-being; happiness; satiation; basic needs; Easterlin paradox;

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References

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  1. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2008. "Happiness Adaptation to Income beyond "Basic Needs"," NBER Working Papers 14539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "On the curvature of the reporting function from objective reality to subjective feelings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 369-372, September.
  3. 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.
  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Cited by:
  1. Dorsett, Richard & Oswald, Andrew J., 2014. "Human Well-being and In-Work Benefits: A Randomized Controlled Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 7943, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Empirical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate," MPRA Paper 49446, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Tamas Hajdu & Gabor Hajdu, 2013. "Are more equal societies happier? Subjective well-being, income inequality, and redistribution," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1320, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  5. Pablo Gluzmann, 2013. "Bienestar subjetivo y crecimiento económico: analizando la paradoja del crecimiento infeliz en la Encuesta Mundial Gallup," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, vol. 59, pages 231-258, January-D.
  6. Strulik, Holger, 2013. "How status concerns can make us rich and happy," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 170, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  7. Chrostek, Pawel, 2013. "An empirical investigation into the determinants and persistence of happiness and life evaluation," MPRA Paper 50442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Beja Jr, Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Mathematical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate," MPRA Paper 48229, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. repec:cge:warwcg:182 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Bruno Frey & Jana Gallus & Lasse Steiner, 2014. "Open issues in happiness research," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 61(2), pages 115-125, June.
  11. Hajdu, Tamás & Hajdu, Gábor, 2014. "Reduction of income inequality and subjective well-being in Europe," Economics Discussion Papers 2014-22, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  12. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Empirical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate sans Happiness Adaptation," MPRA Paper 50633, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Pritchett, Lant & Kenny, Charles, 2013. "Promoting Millennium Development Ideals: The Risks of Defining Development Down," Working Paper Series rwp13-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  14. Chrostek, Pawel, 2013. "An empirical investigation into the determinants and persistence of different types of subjective well-being," MPRA Paper 48292, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. James Fenske & Achyuta Adhvaryu & Anant Nyshadham, 2014. "Early Life Circumstance and Adult Mental Health," Economics Series Working Papers 698, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  16. Lant Pritchett, Charles Kenny, 2013. "Promoting Millennium Development Ideals: The Risks of Defining Development Down-Working Paper 338," Working Papers 338, Center for Global Development.

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