IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits


  • Holger Stichnoth

    () (ZEW Mannheim)


The present paper shows evidence consistent with Falk and Knell's (2004) prediction that individuals' reference income increases with ability. To overcome the difficulty that the reference income is not observed in most data sets, I use indirect evidence from immigrants return visits to their countries of origin. Falk and Knell's model predicts that more educated immigrants are less likely to have returned to their country of origin for a visit, and that they are more likely to have difficulty feeling at home when they do return for a visit. Both predictions are tested using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and cannot be rejected.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Stichnoth, 2013. "Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2707-2717.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-13-00557

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joerg Dittmann & Jan Goebel, 2010. "Your House, Your Car, Your Education: The Socioeconomic Situation of the Neighborhood and its Impact on Life Satisfaction in Germany," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 96(3), pages 497-513, May.
    2. Conchita D’Ambrosio & Joachim Frick, 2007. "Income Satisfaction and Relative Deprivation: An Empirical Link," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 81(3), pages 497-519, May.
    3. Gundi Knies & Simon Burgess & Carol Propper, 2008. "Keeping up with the Schmidt`s – An Empirical Test of Relative Deprivation Theory in the Neighbourhood Context," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 128(1), pages 75-108.
    4. Gundi Knies, 2010. "Income Comparisons among Neighbours and Life Satisfaction in East and West Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 298, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Daniel Hamermesh & Stephen Trejo, 2013. "How do immigrants spend their time? The process of assimilation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 507-530, April.
    6. Ciro Avitabile & Irma Clots-Figueras & Paolo Masella, 2013. "The Effect of Birthright Citizenship on Parental Integration Outcomes," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(3), pages 777-810.
    7. Christoph Sajons, 2016. "Does granting citizenship to immigrant children affect family outmigration?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 395-420, April.
    8. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2012. "Relative concerns of rural-to-urban migrants in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 421-441.
    9. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    10. Hsiaw, Alice, 2013. "Goal-setting and self-control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(2), pages 601-626.
    11. Alexander K. Koch & Julia Nafziger, 2011. "Self‐regulation through Goal Setting," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 212-227, March.
    12. 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.
    13. Ciro Avitabile & Irma Clots-Figueras & Paolo Masella, 2014. "Citizenship, Fertility, and Parental Investments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 35-65, October.
    14. Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2008. "Goal Setting as a Self-Regulation Mechanism," Working Papers w0122, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    15. Armin Falk & Markus Knell, 2004. "Choosing the Joneses: Endogenous Goals and Reference Standards," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 417-435, October.
    16. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus Zimmermann, 2011. "Do ethnic minorities “stretch” their time? UK household evidence on multitasking," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 181-206, June.
    17. Schwarze, Johannes & Harpfer, Marco, 2007. "Are people inequality averse, and do they prefer redistribution by the state?: Evidence from German longitudinal data on life satisfaction," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 233-249, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Immigration; assimilation; goal-setting;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-13-00557. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John P. Conley). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.