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Adaptation to Income over Time: A Weak Point of Subjective Well-Being

  • Christoph Wunder
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    This article holds the view that intertemporal comparisons of subjective well-being measures are only meaningful when the underlying standards of judgment are unaltered. This is a weak point of such measures. The study investigates the change in the satisfaction judgments resulting from adaptation to income over time. Adaptation is defined to be desensitization (sensitization) to the hedonic effect of income resulting from an upward (downward) adjustment of the standards. A framework is introduced that provides empirical estimates for the rate of adaptation using data from the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP).

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.89337.de/diw_sp0130.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 130.

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    Length: 17 p.
    Date of creation: 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp130
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    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    4. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
    5. Kapteyn, A. & Smith, J.P. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2007. "Vignettes and self-reports of work disability in the United States and the Netherlands," Other publications TiSEM 17902a1e-7cbb-4f3f-a772-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    7. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. J.J. Ehrhardt & W.E. Saris & R. Veenhoven, 2000. "Stability of Life-satisfaction over Time," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 177-205, June.
    9. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur Van Soest, 2013. "Are A mericans Really Less Happy with Their Incomes?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(1), pages 44-65, 03.
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