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

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  • Christoph Wunder

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).

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Wunder, 2009. "Adaptation to Income over Time: A Weak Point of Subjective Well-Being," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(2), pages 269-281.
  • Handle: RePEc:aeq:aeqsjb:v129_y2009_i1_q1_p269-281
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3790/schm.129.2.269
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
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    3. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
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    5. Michael Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price & Mark Wooden, 2009. "Life satisfaction and the economic and social characteristics of neighbourhoods," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 421-443, April.
    6. Alois Stutzer & Rafael Lalive, 2004. "The Role of Social Work Norms in Job Searching and Subjective Well-Being," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 696-719, June.
    7. Shields, Michael A. & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2001. "Exploring the Economic and Social Determinants of Psychological and Psychosocial Health," IZA Discussion Papers 396, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    9. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2003. "Are there Regional Variations in the Psychological Cost of Unemployment in South Africa?," Labor and Demography 0310006, EconWPA, revised 28 Oct 2003.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Kuehnle & Christoph Wunder, 2016. "Using the Life Satisfaction Approach to Value Daylight Savings Time Transitions: Evidence from Britain and Germany," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(6), pages 2293-2323, December.
    2. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "Adaptation and the Easterlin Paradox," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-01112725, HAL.
    3. Christoph Wunder & Johannes Schwarze, 2010. "What (If Anything) Do Satisfaction Scores Tell Us about the Intertemporal Change in Living Conditions," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 306, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. Gruen, Carola & Klasen, Stephan, 2012. "Has transition improved well-being?," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 11-30.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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