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Rising aspirations dampen satisfaction

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  • Andrew E. Clark
  • Akiko Kamesaka
  • Teruyuki Tamura

Abstract

It is commonly believed that education is a good thing for individuals. Yet, its correlation with subjective well-being is most often only weakly positive, or even negative, despite the many associated better individual-level outcomes. We here square the circle using novel Japanese data on happiness aspirations. If reported happiness comes from a comparison of outcomes to aspirations, then any phenomenon raising both at the same time will have only a muted effect on reported well-being. We find that around half of the happiness effect of education is cancelled out by higher aspirations, and suggest a similar dampening effect for income.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark & Akiko Kamesaka & Teruyuki Tamura, 2015. "Rising aspirations dampen satisfaction," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(5), pages 515-531, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:23:y:2015:i:5:p:515-531
    DOI: 10.1080/09645292.2015.1042960
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    1. repec:bla:brjirl:v:56:y:2018:i:3:p:484-502 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Clark, Andrew E. & Lee, Tom, 2017. "Early-life correlates of later-life well-being: evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86608, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. repec:eee:soceco:v:70:y:2017:i:c:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Clark, Andrew E. & Lee, Tom, 2017. "Early-life correlates of later-life well-being: evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86608, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. repec:eee:joepsy:v:66:y:2018:i:c:p:64-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia & Yamada, Katsunori, 2017. "When experienced and decision utility concur: The case of income comparisons," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1-9.

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