IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Where the Streets Have a Name: Income Comparisons in the US

  • Abel Brodeur
  • Sarah Flèche

This paper analyses how neighbors' income affect agents' well-being using unprecedented data from the BRFSS and the City of Somerville. We conduct a multi-scale approach at the county, ZIP code and street-levels and find that the association between well-being and neighbors' income follows an inverted U-shaped pattern in the size of the area. We find a negative relationship between well-being and neighbors' income in the county of residence, but the opposite at the ZIP code-level. Our results are consistent with the fact that agents enjoy living in a rich ZIP code but also having poor faraway neighbors since they have preferences for high social status. We test explicitly this interpretation by including amenities and the relative rank in the local income distribution in our model. At the street-level, we find a negative association between neighbors' income and self-reported well-being indicating the presence of income comparisons between very close neighbors.

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: no

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1196.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1196
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. Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh & John F. Helliwell, 2008. "Empathy and Emulation: Life Satisfaction and the Urban Geography of Comparison Groups," NBER Working Papers 14593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Peter Kuhn & Peter Kooreman & Adriaan Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn, 2011. "The Effects of Lottery Prizes on Winners and Their Neighbors: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2226-47, August.
  3. David Card & Alex Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," Working Papers 1269, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Abel Brodeur, 2012. "Smoking, Income and Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Smoking Bans," PSE Working Papers halshs-00664269, HAL.
  5. 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.
  6. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
  8. 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.
  9. M. Sirgy & Terri Cornwell, 2002. "How Neighborhood Features Affect Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 59(1), pages 79-114, July.
  10. Joerg Dittmann & Jan Goebel, 2010. "Your House, Your Car, Your Education: The Socioeconomic Situation of the Neighborhood and its Impact on Life Satisfaction in Germany," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 96(3), pages 497-513, May.
  11. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2009. "How important is rank to individual perception of economic standing? A within-community analysis," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 225-248, September.
  12. Irena Grosfeld & Claudia Senik, 2010. "The emerging aversion to inequality," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 18(1), pages 1-26, 01.
  13. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative income, happiness, and utility: An explanation for the Easterlin paradox and other puzzles," Post-Print halshs-00754299, HAL.
  14. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-57, July.
  16. Robert J. B. Goudie & Sach Mukherjee & Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Andrew J. Oswald & Stephen Wu, 2011. "Happiness as a Driver of Risk-Avoiding Behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 3451, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Andrew E. Clark & Niels Westergaard-Nielsen & Nicolai Kristensen, 2009. "Economic satisfaction and income rank in small neighbourhoods," Post-Print halshs-00754383, HAL.
  18. Gundi Knies & Simon Burgess & Carol Propper, 2007. "Keeping up with the Schmidts: An Empirical Test of Relative Deprivation Theory in the Neighbourhood Context," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 24, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:92:y:1978:i:4:p:589-601 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  21. George J. Stigler, 1950. "The Development of Utility Theory. II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 373.
  22. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  23. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  24. John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2014. "New Measures Of The Costs Of Unemployment: Evidence From The Subjective Well-Being Of 3.3 Million Americans," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(4), pages 1485-1502, October.
  25. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  26. repec:oup:qjecon:v:87:y:1973:i:4:p:544-66 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:963-1002 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  29. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  30. Helliwell, John & Huang, Haifang, 2011. "New measures of the costs of unemployment: Evidence from the subjective well-being of 2.3 million Americans," Working Papers 2011-3, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
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:cep:cepdps:dp1196. 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: ()

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.