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Money, well-being and loss aversion: does an income loss have a greater effect on well-being than an equivalent income gain?

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  • Boyce, Christopher J.
  • Wood, Alex M.
  • Banks, James
  • Clark, Andrew E.
  • Brown, Gordon D.A.

Abstract

Higher income is associated with greater well-being, but do income gains and losses impact on well-being differently? Loss aversion, whereby losses loom larger than gains, is typically examined with relation to decisions about anticipated outcomes. Here, using subjective well-being data from Germany (N = 28,723) and the UK (N = 20,570), we find that experienced falls in income have a larger impact on well-being than equivalent income gains. The effect is not explained by the diminishing returns to well-being of income. Our findings show that loss aversion applies to experienced losses, counteracting suggestions that loss aversion is only an affective forecasting error. Longitudinal studies of the income/well-being relationship may, by failing to take account of loss aversion, have overestimated the positive effect of income for well-being. Moreover, societal well-being may be best served by small and stable income increases even if such stability impairs long-term growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Boyce, Christopher J. & Wood, Alex M. & Banks, James & Clark, Andrew E. & Brown, Gordon D.A., 2014. "Money, well-being and loss aversion: does an income loss have a greater effect on well-being than an equivalent income gain?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 57997, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:57997
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Money, well-being and loss aversion: does an income loss have a greater effect on well-being than an equivalent income gain?
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2015-02-20 22:53:34

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew E. Clark & Conchita D’Ambrosio & Simone Ghislandi, 2016. "Adaptation to Poverty in Long-Run Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 591-600, July.
    2. Fang, Zheng & Niimi, Yoko, 2017. "Does everyone exhibit loss aversion? Evidence from a panel quantile regression analysis of subjective well-being in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 79-90.
    3. Engzell, Per & Ichou, Mathieu, 2019. "Status Loss: The Burden of Positively Selected Immigrants," SocArXiv qr5h7, Center for Open Science.
    4. Fang, Zheng & Niimi, Yoko, 2015. "Do Losses Bite More than Gains? Evidence from a Panel Quantile Regression Analysis of Subjective Well-being in Japan," MPRA Paper 68059, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Andrew E. Clark, 2018. "Four Decades of the Economics of Happiness: Where Next?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(2), pages 245-269, June.
    6. Chen, Le-Yu & Oparina, Ekaterina & Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Srisuma, Sorawoot, 2019. "Have Econometric Analyses of Happiness Data Been Futile? A Simple Truth about Happiness Scales," IZA Discussion Papers 12152, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A. & Suziedelyte, Agne, 2015. "Victimisation, Wellbeing and Compensation: Using Panel Data to Estimate the Costs of Violent Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 9311, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Alex Markle & George Wu & Rebecca White & Aaron Sackett, 2018. "Goals as reference points in marathon running: A novel test of reference dependence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 56(1), pages 19-50, February.
    9. Mujcic, Redzo & Oswald, Andrew J., 2018. "Is envy harmful to a society's psychological health and wellbeing? A longitudinal study of 18,000 adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 198(C), pages 103-111.
    10. Maite Blázquez & Santiago Budría, 2018. "The Effects of Over-indebtedness on Individual Health," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 227(4), pages 103-131, December.
    11. Paul Frijters & Christian Krekel & Aydogan Ulker, 2020. "Machiavelli Versus Concave Utility Functions: Should Bads Be Spread Out Or Concentrated?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1680, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    12. Caroline J. Charpentier & Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Jonathan P. Roiser & Tali Sharot, 2016. "Models of Affective Decision-making: How do Feelings Predict Choice?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1408, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. Efstratia Arampatzi & Martijn Burger & Spyridon Stavropoulos & Louis Tay, 2020. "The Role of Positive Expectations for Resilience to Adverse Events: Subjective Well-Being Before, During and After the Greek Bailout Referendum," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 965-995, March.
    14. Watson, Barry & Osberg, Lars, 2019. "Can positive income anticipations reverse the mental health impacts of negative income anxieties?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 107-122.
    15. Isabelle CHORT & Bénédicte APOUEY, 2018. "Are rising house prices really good for your brain? House value and cognitive functioning among older Europeans," Working Papers 2017-2018_7, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Oct 2018.
    16. Kossuth, Lajos & Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Harris, Donna & Chater, Nick, 2020. "Does it pay to bet on your favourite to win? Evidence on experienced utility from the 2018 FIFA World Cup experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 35-58.
    17. Carly Moulang & Maria Strydom, 2018. "Does well‐being impact individuals’ risky decisions and susceptibility to cognitive bias?," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 58(S1), pages 493-527, November.
    18. Andrew E. Clark & Conchita D’Ambrosio & Simone Ghislandi, 2016. "Adaptation to Poverty in Long-Run Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 591-600, July.
    19. Andrew E. Clark & Conchita D’Ambrosio, 2017. "Living conditions and well-being: Evidence from African countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 209, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    loss aversion; money; income; subjective well-being; RES-062-23-2462; ES/K002201/1;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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