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Inequality, Happiness and Relative Concerns: What Actually is their Relationship?

  • Ed Hopkins

This paper briefly and informally surveys different theoretical models of relative concerns and their relation to inequality. Models of inequity aversion in common use in experimental economics imply a negative relation between inequality and happiness. In contrast, empirical studies on happiness typically employ models of relative concerns that assume that increases in others’ income always have a negative effect on own happiness. However, in these latter models, the relation between inequality and happiness can be positive. One possible solution is a rivalry model where a distinction is made between endowment and reward inequality which have respectively a negative and positive effect on happiness. These different models and their contrasting results may clarify why the empirical relationship between inequality and happiness has been difficult to establish.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 122247000000001896.

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Date of creation: 10 Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:122247000000001896
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