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Adaptation and the Easterlin Paradox

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  • Andrew E. Clark

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

Abstract

Two behavioural explanations of the Easterlin Paradox are commonly advanced. The first appeals to social comparisons, whereby individual i compares her income (Yit) to a comparison income level earned by some other individual or group j (Y*jt). The second explanation is that of adaptation to higher levels of income. This is of the same nature, but here the individual's current income is compared to her own income in the past (i.e. Yit is compared to Yit-τ, for some positive value or values of τ). The first of these explanations has attracted far more empirical attention than has the second. This is probably for data-availability reasons, as the investigation of the latter requires panel information. There is also a suspicion that large changes in Yit might be accompanied by a movement in some other variable that is also correlated with subjective well-being. We here review the empirical evidence that individuals do indeed compare current to past income, and then whether individuals adapt in general to aspects of their economic and social life. Last, we ask whether adaptation is in fact a viable explanation of the Easterlin Paradox.

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  • Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "Adaptation and the Easterlin Paradox," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-01112725, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseose:halshs-01112725
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01112725
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    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. Kaiser, Caspar, 2020. "People do not adapt. New analyses of the dynamic effects of own and reference income on life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 494-513.
    3. Hovi Matti & Laamanen Jani-Petri, 2017. "Adaptation and Loss Aversion in the Relationship between GDP and Subjective Well-being," Working Papers 1717, Tampere University, School of Management and Business, Economics.
    4. Kaiser, Caspar, 2018. "People do not adapt to income changes: A re-evaluation of the dynamic effects of (reference) income on life satisfaction with GSOEP and UKHLS data," MPRA Paper 89867, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Merz, Joachim, 2018. "Are Retirees More Satisfied? Anticipation and Adaptation Effects of Retirement on Subjective Well-Being: A Panel Analysis for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 11832, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Joachim Merz, 2018. "Are Retirees More Satisfied? – Anticipation and Adaptation Effects of Retirement on Subjective Well-Being: A Panel Analysis for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 986, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. 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.

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    Adaptation; Income; Easterlin Paradox;
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