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Income Comparisons and Non-cognitive Skills

Author

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  • Santi Budria
  • Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell

Abstract

People gain utility from occupying a higher ranked position in the income distribution of the reference group. This paper investigates whether these gains depend on an individual's set of non-cognitive skills. Using the 2000-2008 waves of the German Socioeconomic Panel dataset (SOEP), a subjective question on Life Satisfaction, and three different sets of non-cognitive skills indicators, we find significant and robust differences across skills groups. People who are more neurotic, extravert and have low external locus of control and low negative reciprocity are more sensitive to their individual position in the economic ladder. By contrast, the Life Satisfaction reaction to changes in economic status is significantly lower among individuals who score high (low) in negative (positive) reciprocity, and are at the bottom of the distribution of neuroticism, extraversion. The heterogeneity on the importance of income comparisons needs to be taken into account when, for example, introducing them into economic models, predicting individuals' behaviour, or making welfare judgments.

Suggested Citation

  • Santi Budria & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2012. "Income Comparisons and Non-cognitive Skills," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 441, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp441
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    1. Income Comparisons and Non-Cognitive Skills
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2012-05-07 18:05:30

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    4. Pannenberg, Markus & Goerke, Laszlo, 2013. "Direct Evidence on Income Comparisons and Subjective Well-Being," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79799, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life satisfaction; income comparisons; personality traits;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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