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Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Value Surveys

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Author Info

  • Luigino Bruni

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

  • Luca Stanca

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Milan-Bicocca)

Abstract

This paper argues that television viewing produces higher material aspirations, by enhancing both adaptation and positional effects, thus lowering the effect of income on life satisfaction. Using individual data from the World Values Survey we present evidence indicating that the effect of income on both life and financial satisfaction is significantly smaller for heavy television viewers, relative to occasional viewers. This finding is robust to a number of specification checks and alternative interpretations. Overall, the results can be interpreted as providing an additional explanation for the income-happiness paradox: the pervasive and increasing role of television viewing in people’s life, by raising material aspirations, reduces the effect of income on individual happiness.

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File URL: http://dipeco.economia.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper89.pdf
File Function: First version, 2005
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 89.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2005
Date of revision: Jun 2005
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:89

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Keywords: subjective well-being; TV consumption; aspiration level;

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References

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  1. Giacomo Corneo, 2002. "Work and Television," CESifo Working Paper Series 829, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. David Neumark & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995. "Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment," NBER Working Papers 5044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  5. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  6. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
  7. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  8. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
  10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  11. John F. Helliwell, 2002. "How's Life? Combining Individual and National Variables to Explain Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 9065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2005. "Watching alone: Relational Goods, Television and Happiness," Working Papers 90, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
  13. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
  14. O'Guinn, Thomas C & Shrum, L J, 1997. " The Role of Television in the Construction of Consumer Reality," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 278-94, March.
  15. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1978. "Economic Growth and Social Welfare: The Need for a Complete Study of Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 575-87.
  16. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Testing Theories of Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 147, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. TV & happiness
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-12-18 14:30:34
  2. Happiness vs preferences
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-09-16 14:20:54
  3. Incomes & satisfaction
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2014-07-06 12:53:41
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