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Education, Aspirations and Life Satisfaction

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  • Francesco Ferrante

    (University of Cassino)

Abstract

The idea that expanding work and consumption opportunities always increases people’s wellbeing is well established in economics but finds no support in psychology. Instead, there is evidence in both economics and psychology that people’s life satisfaction depends on how experienced utility compares with expectations of life satisfaction or decision utility. In this paper I suggest that expanding work and consumption opportunities is a good thing for decision utility but may not be so for experienced utility. On this premise, I argue that people may overrate their socioeconomic prospects relative to real life chances and I discuss how systematic frustration over unfulfilled expectations can be connected to people’s educational achievement. I test the model’s predictions on Italian data and find preliminary support for the idea that education and access to stimulating environments may have a perverse impact on life satisfaction. I also find evidence that the latter effect is mediated by factors such as gender and age. Indeed, the model seeks to go beyond the Italian case and provide more general insights into how age/life satisfaction relationships can be modelled and explained.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche in its series Working Papers with number 2009-03.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:css:wpaper:2009-03

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Postal: Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche Via S. Angelo Loc. Folcara 03043 Cassino (FR) - Italy
Phone: +3907762994734
Fax: +3907762994834
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Web page: http://www.eco-giu.uniclam.it/Dipartimento/Info
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Keywords: education; opportunities; aspirations; life satisfaction; regret;

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References

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  1. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "The Economic Value of Cultural Diversity: Evidence from US Cities," Working Papers 2004.34, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Manju Puri & David Robinson, 2005. "Optimism and Economic Choice," NBER Working Papers 11361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andrew Clark, . "Job Satisfaction and Gender. Why are Women so Happy at Work?," Economics Discussion Papers 415, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  4. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  5. Graham, Liam & Oswald, Andrew J., 2006. "Hedonic Capital," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 745, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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  7. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald, 2007. "Is Well-being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?," NBER Working Papers 12935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
  10. Becchetti Leonardo & Pelloni Alessandra & Rossetti Fiammetta, 2008. "Relational goods, sociability, and happiness," wp.comunite 0039, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
  11. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  12. van der Sluis, Justin & van Praag, Mirjam & van Witteloostuijn, Arjen, 2007. "Why Are the Returns to Education Higher for Entrepreneurs than for Employees?," IZA Discussion Papers 3058, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  14. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  15. Enrico Moretti, 2002. "Estimating the Social Return to Higher Education: Evidence From Longitudinal and Repeated Cross-Sectional Data," NBER Working Papers 9108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2006. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 209-225, 05.
  18. Edward L. Glaeser & David C. Mare, 1994. "Cities and Skills," NBER Working Papers 4728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  20. Scoppa Vincenzo & Ponzo Michela, 2008. "An Empirical Study of Happiness in Italy," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-23, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Christopher Ambrey & Christopher Fleming, 2014. "Life Satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from Ten Years of the HILDA Survey," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 691-714, January.
  2. Becchetti, Leonardo & Massari, Riccardo & Naticchioni, Paolo, 2013. "The Drivers of Happiness Inequality: Suggestions for Promoting Social Cohesion," IZA Discussion Papers 7153, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. 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.
  4. Mª del Salinas-Jiménez & Joaquín Artés & Javier Salinas-Jiménez, 2011. "Education as a Positional Good: A Life Satisfaction Approach," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 103(3), pages 409-426, September.
  5. Hilke Brockmann, 2012. "Das Glück der Migranten: eine Lebenslaufanalyse zum subjektiven Wohlbefinden von Migranten der ersten Generation in Deutschland," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 504, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Mª del Salinas-Jiménez & Joaquín Artés & Javier Salinas-Jiménez, 2013. "How Do Educational Attainment and Occupational and Wage-Earner Statuses Affect Life Satisfaction? A Gender Perspective Study," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 367-388, April.
  7. Helmut Rainer & Ian Smith, 2012. "Education, Communication and Wellbeing: An Application to Sexual Satisfaction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 581-598, November.
  8. Martin Carree & Ingrid Verheul, 2012. "What Makes Entrepreneurs Happy? Determinants of Satisfaction Among Founders," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 371-387, April.
  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. Francesco Ferrante, 2014. "Great expectations The unintended consequences of educational choices," Working Papers 67, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.

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