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Income-comparison attitudes in the United States and the United Kingdom: Evidence from discrete-choice experiments


  • Shigeoka, Hitoshi
  • Yamada, Katsunori


Using representative samples for the United States and the United Kingdom, we conduct a discrete-choice experiment to estimate the degree of individuals’ propensity to compare incomes. We find that the British experience disutility from other individuals becoming wealthier, while we obtain only weak signals of income-comparison attitudes from the Americans, which is unexpected given the recent literature documenting the status-seeking among Americans. These discrepancies suggest a high sensitivity of the results on income-comparison attitudes to the design of the data. Next, we randomly provide information that increases the salience of income-comparison attitudes, and find that this treatment further increases disutility among the British. However, here as well, the Americans remain unaffected. These findings suggest that the increased salience of income inequality may amplify the negative impact of inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Shigeoka, Hitoshi & Yamada, Katsunori, 2019. "Income-comparison attitudes in the United States and the United Kingdom: Evidence from discrete-choice experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 414-438.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:164:y:2019:i:c:p:414-438
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.06.012

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    More about this item


    Income-comparison attitudes; Discrete-choice experiment; Inter-country survey; Information treatment; Randomized survey experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution


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