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Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel

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  • Di Tella, Rafael
  • Haisken-De New, John
  • MacCulloch, Robert

Abstract

We study adaptation to income and to status using individual panel data on the happiness of 7812 people living in Germany from 1984 to 2000. Specifically, we estimate a "happiness equation" defined over several lags of income and status and compare the long-run effects. We can (cannot) reject the hypothesis of no adaptation to income (status) during the four years following an income (status) change. In the short-run (current year) a one standard deviation increase in status and 52 percent of one standard deviation in income are associated with similar increases in happiness. However 65 percent of the current year's impact of income on happiness is lost over the following four years whereas the impact of status remains intact, if anything growing over time. We also present different estimates of adaptation across sub-groups. For example, we find that those on the right (left) of the political spectrum adapt to status (income) but not to income (status). We can reject equal relative adaptation (to income versus status) for these two sub-groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:834-852
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    Keywords

    Happiness Psychology Adaptation to income Adaptation to status;

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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