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Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do Online Social Networks Raise Social Comparisons?

Author

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  • Fabio Sabatini

    (Sapienza University of Rome and LCSR National Research University Higher School of Economics)

  • Francesco Sarracino

    (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg (STATEC), Agence pour la normalisation et l’ économie de la connaissance (ANEC) and LCSR National Research University Higher School of Economics)

Abstract

Online social networks, such as Facebook, disclose an unprecedented volume of personal information amplifying the occasions for social comparisons, which can be a cause of frustration. We test the hypothesis that the use of social networking sites (SNS) increases social comparisons as proxied by people’s dissatisfaction with their income and we compare the effect of SNS in Western and Eastern European countries. After controlling for the possibility of reverse causality, our results suggest that SNS users have a higher probability to compare their achievements with those of others. In Western countries, this leads individuals to a lower satisfaction with their economic conditions. The opposite holds in Eastern countries, where upward comparisons seemingly strengthen the hope that an improvement in individuals’ economic conditions will occur (so called “tunnel effect”). We conclude that SNS can be a strong engine of frustration for their users depending on the institutional and economic circumstancesKeywords: Social Networks, Social Networking Sites, Social Comparisons, Satisfaction with Income, Relative Deprivation

Suggested Citation

  • Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2016. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do Online Social Networks Raise Social Comparisons?," Working Papers 2016.32, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2016.32
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Angelo Antoci & Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2016. "Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach," Papers 1603.05828, arXiv.org.
    2. Cerqueti, Roy & Sabatini, Fabio & Ventura, Marco, 2016. "Civic capital and support for the welfare state," MPRA Paper 71566, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 456-480, August.
    4. Angelo Antoci & Alexia Delfino & Fabio Paglieri & Fabio Sabatini, 2016. "The ecology of social interactions in online and offline environments," Papers 1601.07776, arXiv.org.
    5. McDool, Emily & Powell, Philip & Roberts, Jennifer & Taylor, Karl, 2016. "Social Media Use and Children's Wellbeing," IZA Discussion Papers 10412, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Antoci, Angelo & Bonelli, Laura & Paglieri, Fabio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Sabatini, Fabio, 2018. "Civility and Trust in Social Media," IZA Discussion Papers 11290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:1:p:308-325 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Fulvio Castellacci & Henrik Schwabe, 2018. "Internet Use and the U-shaped relationship between Age and Well-being," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20180215, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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