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Income Inequality and Subjective Well-being: A Cross-National Study on the Conditional Effects of Individual and National Characteristics

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  • Jesper Rözer

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  • Gerbert Kraaykamp

    ()

Abstract

In this study we raise the question how a nation’s income inequality affects subjective well-being. Using information on 195,091 individuals from 85 different countries from the World Value Surveys and the European Value Surveys, we established that in general, people living in more unequal countries report higher well-being than people from more equal countries. This association however does not apply to all people similarly. First, the positive effect of a nation’s income inequality is weaker when individuals express more social and institutional trust, and underscore egalitarian norms to a larger extent. Second, the positive association between national income inequality and subjective well-being is less strong for people from countries with high levels of social and institutional trust. So, our research predominantly indicates that there are far-reaching effects of an individual’s and a nation’s trust on people’s well-being. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Jesper Rözer & Gerbert Kraaykamp, 2013. "Income Inequality and Subjective Well-being: A Cross-National Study on the Conditional Effects of Individual and National Characteristics," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 1009-1023, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:113:y:2013:i:3:p:1009-1023 DOI: 10.1007/s11205-012-0124-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Simone M. Schneider, 2016. "Income Inequality and Subjective Wellbeing: Trends, Challenges, and Research Directions," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1719-1739, August.
    2. Ozan Eksi & Neslihan Kaya, 2017. "Life Satisfaction and Keeping Up with Other Countries," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, pages 199-228.
    3. Clark, Andrew E. & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2014. "Attitudes to Income Inequality: Experimental and Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Mike Pennock, 2016. "Slower Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being in the Canadian Context: A Discussion Paper," CSLS Research Reports 2016-09, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    5. repec:spr:soinre:v:134:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1418-y is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Rok Spruk & Aleskandar Kešeljević, 2016. "Institutional Origins of Subjective Well-Being: Estimating the Effects of Economic Freedom on National Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 659-712, April.
    7. repec:aes:amfeco:v:46:y:2017:i:19:p:822 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ángeles Sánchez-Domínguez & Maria J. Ruiz Martos, 2016. "Europe 2020 Strategy Under the Scope of Life Satisfaction," ThE Papers 16/01, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    9. Pablo Gluzmann, 2013. "Bienestar subjetivo y crecimiento económico: analizando la paradoja del crecimiento infeliz en la Encuesta Mundial Gallup," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, pages 231-258.
    10. repec:ssi:jouesi:v:4:y:2016:i:2:p:198-210 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Nicola Pontarollo & Mercy Orellana Bravo & Joselin Segovia Sarmiento, 2017. "The determinants of subjective wellbeing in a developing country: The Ecuadorian case," JRC Working Papers JRC109319, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    12. Hajdu, Tamás & Hajdu, Gábor, 2014. "Reduction of income inequality and subjective well-being in Europe," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-29.
    13. Benjamin Schalembier, 2016. "The Impact of Exposure to Other Countries on Life Satisfaction: An International Application of the Relative Income Hypothesis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 221-239, August.
    14. Mikucka, Malgorzata & Sarracino, Francesco & Dubrow, Joshua K., 2017. "When Does Economic Growth Improve Life Satisfaction? Multilevel Analysis of the Roles of Social Trust and Income Inequality in 46 Countries, 1981–2012," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 447-459.
    15. Elias Soukiazis & Sara Ramos, 2016. "The Structure of Subjective Well-Being and Its Determinants: A Micro-Data Study for Portugal," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 1375-1399, April.

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