IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jhecon/v57y2018icp263-276.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Local neighbors as positives, regional neighbors as negatives: Competing channels in the relationship between others’ income, health, and happiness

Author

Listed:
  • Ifcher, John
  • Zarghamee, Homa
  • Graham, Carol

Abstract

That well-being is decreasing in others’ income is termed the “relative income hypothesis” (RIH) by scholars of subjective well-being (SWB) and has substantial empirical support. Some studies, however, present evidence of both positive and negative explanatory channels in the relationship between others’ income and SWB. We develop a theoretical framework integrating four distinct channels through which neighbors’ income can affect utility: public goods, cost of living, expectations of future income, and direct effects (RIH or altruism). We estimate the relationship with SWB data from the U.S. Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and median-income data from the American Community Survey for ZIP codes and MSAs. The relationship is proximity-dependent: positive (negative) when using ZIP-code (MSA) median income as reference income, suggesting that positive (negative) channels dominate locally (regionally) and reconciling the literature’s seemingly divergent results. These findings are consistent across SWB measures and many health-related indices. Additional analyses support the public-goods and cost­of-living channels.

Suggested Citation

  • Ifcher, John & Zarghamee, Homa & Graham, Carol, 2018. "Local neighbors as positives, regional neighbors as negatives: Competing channels in the relationship between others’ income, health, and happiness," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 263-276.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:263-276
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.08.003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629616305616
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.08.003?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee & Carol Graham, 2019. "Income inequality and well-being in the U.S.: evidence of geographic-scale- and measure-dependence," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(3), pages 415-434, September.
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    3. 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.
    4. McBride, Michael, 2010. "Money, happiness, and aspirations: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 262-276, June.
    5. Claudia Senik, 2008. "Ambition and Jealousy: Income Interactions in the ‘Old’ Europe versus the ‘New’ Europe and the United States," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(299), pages 495-513, August.
    6. Felix FitzRoy & Michael Nolan & Max Steinhardt & David Ulph, 2014. "Testing the tunnel effect: comparison, age and happiness in UK and German panels," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, December.
    7. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-116, March.
    8. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    9. Albert O. Hirschman & Michael Rothschild, 1973. "The Changing Tolerance for Income Inequality in the Course of Economic DevelopmentWith A Mathematical Appendix," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 544-566.
    10. Angus Deaton & Arthur A. Stone, 2013. "Two Happiness Puzzles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 591-597, May.
      • Arthur A. Stone & Angus Deaton, 2013. "Two happiness puzzles," Working Papers 2013-3, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    11. Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Direct evidence on income comparisons and their welfare effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 408-424, October.
    12. Krueger, Alan B. & Schkade, David A., 2008. "The reliability of subjective well-being measures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1833-1845, August.
    13. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    14. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2007. "Community, comparisons and subjective well-being in a divided society," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 69-90, September.
    15. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh & Anthony Harris & Haifang Huang, 2009. "International Evidence on the Social Context of Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 14720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. AndrewE. Clark & Nicolai Kristensen & Niels Westergård-Nielsen, 2009. "Job Satisfaction and Co-worker Wages: Status or Signal?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 430-447, March.
    17. Hirschman, Albert O., 1973. "The changing tolerance for income inequality in the course of economic development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 1(12), pages 29-36, December.
    18. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Joachim R. Frick, 2012. "Individual Wellbeing in a Dynamic Perspective," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(314), pages 284-302, April.
    19. 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.
    20. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    21. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson, 2009. "Happiness, Unhappiness, and Suicide: An Empirical Assessment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 539-549, 04-05.
    22. Angner, Erik, 2010. "Subjective well-being," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 361-368, June.
    23. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2014. "Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2698-2735, September.
    24. Carol Graham & Andrew Felton, 2006. "Inequality and happiness: Insights from Latin America," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(1), pages 107-122, April.
    25. Ludwig, Jens & Duncan, Greg J. & Katz, Lawrence F. & Kessler, Ronald & Kling, Jeffrey R. & Gennetian, Lisa A. & Sanbonmatsu, Lisa, 2012. "Neighborhood Effects on the Long-Term Well-Being of Low-Income Adults," Scholarly Articles 11870359, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    26. Andrew E. Clark & Nicolai Kristensen & Niels Westergård-Nielsen, 2009. "Economic Satisfaction and Income Rank in Small Neighbourhoods," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 519-527, 04-05.
    27. Jones, Andrew M. & Wildman, John, 2008. "Health, income and relative deprivation: Evidence from the BHPS," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 308-324, March.
    28. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb & Oren Ziv, 2016. "Unhappy Cities," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S2), pages 129-182.
    29. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
    30. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2012. "What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2083-2110, August.
    31. Cristina Blanco-Perez, 2012. "Rethinking the Relative Income Hypothesis," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 501, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    32. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Lawrence F. Katz, 2016. "The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 855-902, April.
    33. Senik, Claudia, 2004. "When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2099-2123, August.
    34. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
    35. Helliwell, John & Layard, Richard & Sachs, Jeffrey, 2012. "World happiness report," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47487, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    36. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Local Neighbors as Positives, Regional Neighbors as Negatives: Competing Channels in the Relationship between Others’ Income, Health, and Happiness
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-07-01 19:52:29

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee & Carol Graham, 2019. "Income inequality and well-being in the U.S.: evidence of geographic-scale- and measure-dependence," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(3), pages 415-434, September.
    2. Kaiser, Caspar, 2022. "Using memories to assess the intrapersonal comparability of wellbeing reports," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 193(C), pages 410-442.
    3. Kaiser, Caspar, 2020. "People do not adapt. New analyses of the dynamic effects of own and reference income on life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 494-513.
    4. Zeynep B. Ugur, 2021. "Does Money Buy Happiness in Turkey?," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 1073-1096, June.
    5. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee & Dan Houser & Lina Diaz, 2020. "The relative income effect: an experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(4), pages 1205-1234, December.
    6. Eiji Yamamura, 2021. "Where do I rank? Am I happy?: learning income position and subjective-wellbeing in an internet experiment," Papers 2107.11185, arXiv.org.
    7. Jean-Marc Bédhat Atsebi & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2019. "Relative Deprivation in Tanzania," Working Papers 1124, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. T. Lakshmanasamy & K. Maya, 2020. "The Effect of Income Inequality on Happiness Inequality in India: A Recentered Influence Function Regression Estimation and Life Satisfaction Inequality Decomposition," Indian Journal of Human Development, , vol. 14(2), pages 161-181, August.
    9. Fumagalli, Elena & Fumagalli, Laura, 2022. "Subjective well-being and the gender composition of the reference group: Evidence from a survey experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 196-219.
    10. Tiffany S. Neman, 2020. "Does Your Neighborhood’s Income Distribution Matter? A Multi-scale Study of Financial Well-Being in the U.S," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 152(3), pages 951-970, December.
    11. Zokaei Ashtiani, Amin & Dudek, Thomas & Rieger, Marc Oliver, 2020. "Happy savers and happy spenders: An experimental study comparing US Americans and Germans," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    12. Thanasis Ziogas & Dimitris Ballas & Sierdjan Koster & Arjen Edzes, 2020. "How happy are my neighbours? Modelling spatial spillover effects of well-being," Papers 2007.11580, arXiv.org.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Abel Brodeur & Sarah Flèche, 2019. "Neighbors' Income, Public Goods, and Well‐Being," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 65(2), pages 217-238, June.
    2. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee & Dan Houser & Lina Diaz, 2020. "The relative income effect: an experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(4), pages 1205-1234, December.
    3. Clark, Andrew E. & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2014. "Attitudes to Income Inequality: Experimental and Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8136, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Byela Tibesigwa & Martine Visser & Brennan Hodkinson, 2016. "Effects of Objective and Subjective Income Comparisons on Subjective Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 361-389, August.
    5. Hajdu, Tamás & Hajdu, Gábor, 2011. "A hasznosság és a relatív jövedelem kapcsolatának vizsgálata magyar adatok segítségével [Examining the relation of utility and relative income using Hungarian data]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 56-73.
    6. O'Donnell, Gus & Oswald, Andrew J., 2015. "National well-being policy and a weighted approach to human feelings," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 59-70.
    7. Li, Linyang, 2018. "Financial inclusion and poverty: The role of relative income," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 165-191.
    8. Elena Bárcena-Martín & Alexandra Cortés-Aguilar & Ana I. Moro-Egido, 2017. "Social Comparisons on Subjective Well-Being: The Role of Social and Cultural Capital," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1121-1145, August.
    9. Elena Bárcena-Martín & Cortés Aguilar Alexandra & Ana I. Moro Egido, 2013. "The role of proximity and social comparisons on subjective well-being," ThE Papers 13/10, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    10. Ateca Amestoy, Victoria María & Cortés Aguilar, Alexandra & Moro-Egido, Ana I., 2011. "Social Interactions and Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Latin America," DFAEII Working Papers 2011-05, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    11. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee & Carol Graham, 2019. "Income inequality and well-being in the U.S.: evidence of geographic-scale- and measure-dependence," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(3), pages 415-434, September.
    12. Pascal Courty & Merwan Engineer, 2019. "A pure hedonic theory of utility and status: Unhappy but efficient invidious comparisons," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 21(4), pages 601-621, August.
    13. Felix FitzRoy & Michael Nolan & Max Steinhardt & David Ulph, 2014. "Testing the tunnel effect: comparison, age and happiness in UK and German panels," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, December.
    14. Victoria Ateca-Amestoy & Alexandra Aguilar & Ana Moro-Egido, 2014. "Social Interactions and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Latin America," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 527-554, June.
    15. Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Direct evidence on income comparisons and their welfare effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 408-424, October.
    16. Santi Budria & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2012. "Income Comparisons and Non-cognitive Skills," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 441, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    17. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.
    18. Godechot, Olivier & Senik, Claudia, 2015. "Wage comparisons in and out of the firm. Evidence from a matched employer–employee French database," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 395-410.
    19. Jantsch, Antje & Le Blanc, Julia & Schmidt, Tobias, 2022. "Wealth and subjective well-being in Germany," Discussion Papers 11/2022, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    20. Santiago Budria, 2013. "Are Relative-Income Effects Constant Across the Well-Being Distribution?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 1379-1408, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; Relative income hypothesis; Others' income; Reference group; Relative utility; Income comparison; Happiness;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:263-276. 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: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560 .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560 .

    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.