IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Does Positional Concern Matter in Poor Societies? Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Rural Ethiopia

  • Akay, Alpaslan
  • Martinsson, Peter
  • Medhin, Haileselassie

We investigate attitudes toward positionality among rural farmers in Northern Ethiopia using a survey experiment. On average, we find very low positional concerns both for income per se and for income from aid projects. The results support the claim that positional concerns are positively correlated with absolute level of income. The implications of our results on implementation of aid projects are discussed.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

Volume (Year): 40 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 428-435

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:40:y:2012:i:2:p:428-435
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Community, Comparisons and Subjective Well-being in a Divided Society," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-21, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Marc Fleurbaey, 2009. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1029-75, December.
  3. Peter Nunnenkamp & Rainer Thiele, 2006. "Targeting Aid to the Needy and Deserving: Nothing But Promises?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(9), pages 1177-1201, 09.
  4. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  5. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Incentives and Prosocial Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 4633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. McBride, Michael, 2010. "Money, happiness, and aspirations: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 262-276, June.
  7. Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman & Peter Martinsson, 2007. "Do You Enjoy Having More than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(296), pages 586-598, November.
  8. Charness, Gary & Grosskopf, Brit, 2001. "Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-328, July.
  9. John Knight & Lina Song, 2007. "Subjective Well-being and its Determinants in Rural China," Economics Series Working Papers 334, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  10. Holden, Stein T. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Hagos, Fitsum, 2003. "Food-for-work for Poverty Reduction and the Promotion of Sustainable Land Use: Can It Work?," Working Papers 127797, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  11. Claudia Senik, 2008. "Direct evidence on income comparisons and their welfare effects," PSE Working Papers halshs-00588023, HAL.
  12. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Gilligan, Daniel O. & Hoddinott, John & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2008. "The impact of Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Programme and its linkages:," IFPRI discussion papers 839, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  14. Stefan Dercon, 2003. "Growth and Shocks: evidence from rural Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-12, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  15. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 4414, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Akay, Alpaslan & Martinsson, Peter, 2008. "Does Relative Income Matter for the Very Poor? Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," IZA Discussion Papers 3812, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Caporale, Guglielmo Maria & Georgellis, Yannis & Tsitsianis, Nicholas & Yin, Ya Ping, 2009. "Income and happiness across Europe: Do reference values matter?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 42-51, February.
  19. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  20. Markus Knell, . "Social Comparisons, Inequality, and Growth," IEW - Working Papers 005, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  21. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2007. "Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," Economics Series Working Papers 322, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  22. Jayne, Thomas S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2000. "Targeting Of Food Aid in Rural Ethiopia: Chronic Need or Inertia?," Food Security International Development Papers 54048, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  23. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007. "The Economic Lives of the Poor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 141-168, Winter.
  24. 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.
  25. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Who wants to redistribute?: The tunnel effect in 1990s Russia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 87-104, April.
  26. Carlsson, Fredrik & Nam, Pham Khanh & Linde-Rahr, Martin & Martinsson, Peter, 2005. "Are Vietnamese Farmers Concerned with their Relative Position in Society?," Working Papers in Economics 165, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  27. Solnick, Sara J. & Hong, Li & Hemenway, David, 2007. "Positional goods in the United States and China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 537-545, August.
  28. McBride, Michael, 2001. "Relative-income effects on subjective well-being in the cross-section," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 251-278, July.
  29. 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.
  30. Daniel Kahneman & Robert Sugden, 2005. "Experienced Utility as a Standard of Policy Evaluation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 161-181, 09.
  31. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  32. Jayne, T. S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2001. "Giving to the Poor? Targeting of Food Aid in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 887-910, May.
  33. 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.
  34. Luca Corazzini, Lucio Esposito, Francesca Majorano., 2009. "Exploring the Absolutist Vs Relativist Perception of Poverty Using a Cross-Country Questionnaire Survey," ISLA Working Papers 32, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  35. Persson, Mats, 1995. " Why Are Taxes So High in Egalitarian Societies?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 569-80, December.
  36. Sara J. Solnick & David Hemenway, 2005. "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in Others?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 147-151, May.
  37. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  38. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
  39. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  40. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism – Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Discussion Papers in Economics 726, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  41. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  42. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  43. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "When the Joneses' consumption hurts: Optimal public good provision and nonlinear income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 986-997, June.
  44. Harald Uhlig & Lars Ljungqvist, 2000. "Tax Policy and Aggregate Demand Management under Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 356-366, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:40:y:2012:i:2:p:428-435. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.