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Adaptation to Income over Time: A Weak Point of Subjective Well-Being

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  • Christoph Wunder
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    Abstract

    This article holds the view that intertemporal comparisons of subjective well-being measures are only meaningful when the underlying standards of judgment are unaltered. This is a weak point of such measures. The study investigates the change in the satisfaction judgments resulting from adaptation to income over time. Adaptation is defined to be desensitization (sensitization) to the hedonic effect of income resulting from an upward (downward) adjustment of the standards. A framework is introduced that provides empirical estimates for the rate of adaptation using data from the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP).

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.89337.de/diw_sp0130.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 130.

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    Length: 17 p.
    Date of creation: 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp130

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    Keywords: Adaptation; financial satisfaction; subjective well-being; standards of judgment;

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    References

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    1. Rafael Di Tella & John Haisken-De New & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness Adaptation to Income and to Status in an Individual Panel," NBER Working Papers 13159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. J.J. Ehrhardt & W.E. Saris & R. Veenhoven, 2000. "Stability of Life-satisfaction over Time," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 177-205, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Kapteyn, A. & Smith, J.P. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2011. "Are Americans Really Less Happy With Their Incomes?," Discussion Paper 2011-059, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Income Aspirations in Individual Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 124, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    7. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2007. "Vignettes and Self-Reports of Work Disability in the United States and the Netherlands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 461-473, March.
    8. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    9. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
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