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Does Envy Destroy Social Fundamentals? The Impact of Relative Income Position on Social Capital

  • Benno Torgler

    (Yale Center for International and Area Studies)

  • Justina A.V. Fischer

    (Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research (SIAW))

Research evidence on the impact of relative income position on individual attitudes and behaviour is sorely lacking. Therefore, this paper assesses such positional impact on social capital by applying 14 different measurements to International Social Survey Programme data from 25 countries. We find support for a positional concern effect or ‘envy’ whose magnitude in several cases is quite substantial. The results indicate that such an effect is non-linear. In addition, we find an indication that absolute income level is also relevant. Lastly, changing the reference group (regional versus national) produces no significant differences in the results.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2006.38.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2006.38
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