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Keeping up with the Joneses by finding a better-paid job - The effect of relative income on job mobility

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  • Kristin Kronenberg

    ()

  • Tobias Kronenberg

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Abstract

It has been shown that a person’s relative income – compared to a reference group – has a negative impact on self-reported happiness. This suggests that people who aim at increasing their happiness should try to find a better-paid job if their relative income is low. In this paper we study this hypothesis by estimating the effect of relative income on job mobility, using a dataset containing information on roughly four million Dutch employees. We consider three different reference groups: people who live in the same neighborhood, people who work for the same employer, and people who share certain demographic characteristics. Our findings suggest that workers compare their own income to that of their neighbors, and low relative income is associated with higher job mobility. We conclude that low relative income (compared to the neighbors) reduces workers’ happiness, and workers react to this by finding a new job which may offer the prospect of higher pay.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa11p1445.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa11p1445

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  1. Bergin, Adele, 2009. "Job Mobility in Ireland," Papers RB2009/2/5, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  2. Veblen, Thorstein, 2009. "The Theory of the Leisure Class," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199552580 edited by Banta, Martha.
  3. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. McBride, Michael, 2001. "Relative-income effects on subjective well-being in the cross-section," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 251-278, July.
  5. Becker, Gary S, 1981. "Altruism in the Family and Selfishness in the Market Place," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 48(189), pages 1-15, February.
  6. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00586254 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Kronenberg, Kristin & Carree, Martin, 2010. "Job and residential mobility in the Netherlands: the influence of human capital, household composition and location," MPRA Paper 25840, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Veblen, Thorstein, 1899. "The Theory of the Leisure Class," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number veblen1899.
  9. Linneman, Peter D. & Graves, Philip E., 1983. "Migration and job change: a multinomial logit approach," MPRA Paper 19922, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  11. 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).
  12. repec:pse:psecon:2008-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  14. Adele Bergin, 2008. "Job Mobility in Ireland," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1940708.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  15. Thorstein Veblen, 1899. "Mr. Cummings's Strictures on "The Theory of the Leisure Class"," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8, pages 106.
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