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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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  1. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Giacomo Corneo, 2002. "Work and Television," CESifo Working Paper Series 829, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
  5. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  6. Bruni, Luigino & Stanca, Luca, 2008. "Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 506-528, March.
  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. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Testing Theories of Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 147, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Christine Benesch & Alois Stutzer, . "Does watching TV make us happy?," IEW - Working Papers 241, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  16. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
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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
  4. Uses of illiteracy
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2014-09-10 13:58:00
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