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The Relative Utility Hypothesis With and Without Self-reported Reference Wages

Author

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  • Adrián De la Garza
  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni
  • Atsushi Sannabe
  • Katsunori Yamada

Abstract

This article uses survey data of workers in Japan to study the effects of own and self-reported reference wages on subjective well-being. Higher wages lead to higher life and job satisfaction. When workers perceive that their peers earn higher wages, they report lower well-being. We compare our results with relative utility tests in the literature and develop a generalized version of the classical measurement error model to show that the estimated bias of the reference wage effect can go in both directions. We propose an IV strategy when the self-reported reference wage is not available that does not eliminate the bias but delivers a lower bound of the "true" effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Adrián De la Garza & Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Atsushi Sannabe & Katsunori Yamada, 2010. "The Relative Utility Hypothesis With and Without Self-reported Reference Wages," Working Papers 2010-19, Banco de México.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdm:wpaper:2010-19
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    Cited by:

    1. Goerke, Laszlo & Pannenberg, Markus, 2013. "Keeping up with the Joneses: Income Comparisons and Labour Supply," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80033, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Goerke, Laszlo & Pannenberg, Markus, 2015. "Direct evidence for income comparisons and subjective well-being across reference groups," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 95-101.
    3. Gabriele Ruiu & Maria Laura Ruiu, 2019. "The Complex Relationship Between Education and Happiness: The Case of Highly Educated Individuals in Italy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(8), pages 2631-2653, December.
    4. Andrew Clark & Claudia Senik & Katsunori Yamada, 2013. "The Joneses in Japan: Income Comparisons and Financial Satisfaction," ISER Discussion Paper 0866, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    5. Yamada, Katsunori & Sato, Masayuki, 2013. "Another avenue for anatomy of income comparisons: Evidence from hypothetical choice experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 35-57.
    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.
    7. Katsunori Yamada & Masayuki Sato & Yasuhiro Nakamoto, 2009. "Measurement of Social Preference from Utility-Based Choice Experiments," ISER Discussion Paper 0759, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    8. Laetitia Hauret & Donald R. Williams, 2019. "Relative Income and Pay Satisfaction: Further Evidence on the Role of the Reference Group," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 307-329, January.
    9. Sun Youn Lee & Fumio Ohtake, 2018. "How Conscious Are You of Others? Further Evidence on Relative Income and Happiness," ISER Discussion Paper 1022, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    10. Temesgen Kifle, 2014. "Do Comparison Wages Play a Major Role in Determining Overall Job Satisfaction? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 613-638, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; relative utility; reference wages;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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