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Happiness, Habits and High Rank: Comparisons in Economic and Social Life

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  • Andrew E. Clark

Abstract

The role of money in producing sustained subjective well-being seems to be seriously compromised by social comparisons and habituation. But does that necessarily mean that we would be better off doing something else instead? This paper suggests that the phenomena of comparison and habituation are actually found in a considerable variety of economic and social activities, rendering conclusions regarding well-being policy less straightforward.

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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 452.

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Length: 40 p.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp452

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Keywords: Comparison; habituation; income; unemployment; marriage; divorce; health; religion; policy;

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References

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  1. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2009. "Who compares to whom? The anatomy of income comparisons in Europe," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586036, HAL.
  2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CESifo Working Paper Series 2394, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Melenberg, B., 1992. "Micro-econometric models of consumer behaviour and welfare," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3508638, Tilburg University.
  4. van Praag, Bernard M. S. & Baarsma, Barbara E., 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," IZA Discussion Papers 1096, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  6. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
  7. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Joachim R. Frick, 2007. "Individual Well-Being in a Dynamic Perspective," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 673, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  9. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2003. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 371, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Does Happiness Adapt? A Longitudinal Study of Disability with Implications for Economists and Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 2208, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  12. Clark, Andrew E. & Kristensen, Nicolai & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2007. "Job Satisfaction and Co-worker Wages: Status or Signal?," IZA Discussion Papers 3073, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. repec:pse:psecon:2010-43 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Claudia Senik, 2002. "When Information Dominates Comparison: A Panel Data Analysis Using Russian Subjective Data," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 495, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  15. John Knight & Lina Song, 2007. "Subjective Well-being and its Determinants in Rural China," Economics Series Working Papers 334, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  16. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00566120 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2010. "Happy House: Spousal Weight and Individual Well-Being," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1001, CEPREMAP.
  18. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.
  19. repec:pse:psecon:2009-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Clark, Andrew E. & Kristensen, Nicolai & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2008. "Economic Satisfaction and Income Rank in Small Neighbourhoods," IZA Discussion Papers 3813, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. 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.
  22. N Powdthavee, 2008. "Ill-Health as a Household Norm: Evidence from Other People's Health Problems," Discussion Papers 08/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
  23. 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.
  24. Zizzo, D.J. & Oswald, A., 2000. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others' Incomes?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 568, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  25. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & van Landeghem, Bert, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," IZA Discussion Papers 4010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  27. Clark, Andrew E., 1999. "Are wages habit-forming? evidence from micro data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-200, June.
  28. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  29. Frank, Robert H. & Hutchens, Robert M., 1993. "Wages, seniority, and the demand for rising consumption profiles," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 251-276, August.
  30. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  31. Andrew E. Clark & Orsolya Lelkes, 2009. "Let us pray: religious interactions in life satisfaction," PSE Working Papers halshs-00566120, HAL.
  32. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Maximising Happiness?," IEW - Working Papers 022, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  33. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
  34. Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  35. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness Prospers in Democracy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 79-102, March.
  36. Richard E. Lucas & Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Ed Diener, 2002. "Re-Examining Adaptation and the Setpoint Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status," DELTA Working Papers 2002-08, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  37. Wu, Stephen, 2001. "Adapting to heart conditions: a test of the hedonic treadmill," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 495-507, July.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Happiness, Habits and High Rank: Comparisons in Economic and Social Life
    by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2011-09-26 14:34:45
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2011. "Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1124-1136.
  2. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2012. "Family Money, Relational Life and (Class) Relative Wealth: an Empirical Analysis on Life Satisfaction of Secondary School Students," CEIS Research Paper 223, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 21 Feb 2012.
  3. Becchetti, Leonardo & Pelloni , Alessandra, 2010. "What are we learning from the life satisfaction literature?," AICCON Working Papers 76-2010, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  4. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Van Landeghem, Bert & Swinnen, Johan F.M. & Vranken, Liesbet, 2008. "Land and Happiness: Land Distribution and Subjective Well-Being in Moldova," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 44375, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  6. Jones, A.; & Rice, N.; & Rosa Dias, P., 2010. "Long-term effects of cognitive skills, social adjustment and schooling on health and lifestyle: Evidence from a reform of selective schooling," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 10/11, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  7. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564836 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Temesgen Kifle, 2014. "Do Comparison Wages Play a Major Role in Determining Overall Job Satisfaction? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 613-638, June.
  9. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2014. "Family Economic Well-Being, and (Class) Relative Wealth: An Empirical Analysis of Life Satisfaction of Secondary School Students in Three Italian Cities," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 503-525, June.
  10. BARTOLINI Stefano & SARRACINO Francesco, 2011. "Happy for How Long? How Social Capital and GDP relate to Happiness over Time," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2011-60, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  11. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.

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