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Education, Aspirations and Life Satisfaction

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  • Francesco Ferrante

    (University of Cassino)

Abstract

The idea that expanding work and consumption opportunities always increases people’s wellbeing is well established in economics but finds no support in psychology. Instead, there is evidence in both economics and psychology that people’s life satisfaction depends on how experienced utility compares with expectations of life satisfaction or decision utility. In this paper I suggest that expanding work and consumption opportunities is a good thing for decision utility but may not be so for experienced utility. On this premise, I argue that people may overrate their socioeconomic prospects relative to real life chances and I discuss how systematic frustration over unfulfilled expectations can be connected to people’s educational achievement. I test the model’s predictions on Italian data and find preliminary support for the idea that education and access to stimulating environments may have a perverse impact on life satisfaction. I also find evidence that the latter effect is mediated by factors such as gender and age. Indeed, the model seeks to go beyond the Italian case and provide more general insights into how age/life satisfaction relationships can be modelled and explained.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Ferrante, 2009. "Education, Aspirations and Life Satisfaction," Working Papers 2009-03, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche.
  • Handle: RePEc:css:wpaper:2009-03
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Becchetti & Riccardo Massari & Paolo Naticchioni, 2014. "The drivers of happiness inequality: suggestions for promoting social cohesion," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 419-442.
    2. Ferdi Botha, 2014. "Life Satisfaction and Education in South Africa: Investigating the Role of Attainment and the Likelihood of Education as a Positional Good," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(2), pages 555-578, September.
    3. Martin Carree & Ingrid Verheul, 2012. "What Makes Entrepreneurs Happy? Determinants of Satisfaction Among Founders," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 371-387, April.
    4. Aguilar, Alexandra Cortés & García Muñoz, Teresa M. & Moro-Egido, Ana I., 2013. "Heterogeneous self-employment and satisfaction in Latin America," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 44-61.
    5. Christopher Ambrey & Christopher Fleming, 2014. "Life Satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from Ten Years of the HILDA Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 691-714, January.
    6. Hilke Brockmann, 2012. "Das Glück der Migranten: eine Lebenslaufanalyse zum subjektiven Wohlbefinden von Migranten der ersten Generation in Deutschland," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 504, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Helmut Rainer & Ian Smith, 2012. "Education, Communication and Wellbeing: An Application to Sexual Satisfaction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 581-598, November.
    8. Mª del Salinas-Jiménez & Joaquín Artés & Javier Salinas-Jiménez, 2011. "Education as a Positional Good: A Life Satisfaction Approach," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 103(3), pages 409-426, September.
    9. Mª del Salinas-Jiménez & Joaquín Artés & Javier Salinas-Jiménez, 2013. "How Do Educational Attainment and Occupational and Wage-Earner Statuses Affect Life Satisfaction? A Gender Perspective Study," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 367-388, April.
    10. Francesco Ferrante, 2014. "Great expectations The unintended consequences of educational choices," Working Papers 67, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
    11. Joaquín Artés & Maria del Salinas-Jiménez & Javier Salinas-Jiménez, 2014. "Small Fish in a Big Pond or Big Fish in a Small Pond? The Effects of Educational Mismatch on Subjective Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 771-789, November.
    12. Cortés Aguilar Alexandra & Teresa Garcia-Muñoz & Ana I. Moro Egido, 2013. "Heterogeneous Self-employment and Subjective Well-Being. Evidence from Latin America," ThE Papers 13/05, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; opportunities; aspirations; life satisfaction; regret;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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