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Happiness, habits and high rank: Comparisons in economic and social life

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  • Andrew E. Clark

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, PJSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

The role of money in producing sustained subjective well-being seems to be seriously compromised by social comparisons and habituation. But does that necessarily mean that we would be better off doing something else instead? This paper suggests that the phenomena of comparison and habituation are actually found in a variety of economic and social activities, rendering conclusions regarding well-being policy less straightforward.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew E. Clark, 2008. "Happiness, habits and high rank: Comparisons in economic and social life," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586049, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00586049
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00586049
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2011. "Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1124-1136.
    2. Jones, A. & Rice, N. & Rosa Dias, P., 2010. "Long-term effects of cognitive skills, social adjustment and schooling on health and lifestyle: Evidence from a reform of selective schooling," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 10/11, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Uhrig, S.C. Noah, 2005. "Cinema is good for you: the effects of cinema attendance on self reported anxiety or depression and 'happiness'," ISER Working Paper Series 2005-14, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2014. "Family Economic Well-Being, and (Class) Relative Wealth: An Empirical Analysis of Life Satisfaction of Secondary School Students in Three Italian Cities," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 503-525, June.
    5. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni, 2013. "What are we learning from the life satisfaction literature?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 60(2), pages 113-155, June.
    6. Lars Thiel, 2014. "Illness and Health Satisfaction: The Role of Relative Comparisons," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 695, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    7. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2011. "Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1124-1136.
    8. Stefano Bartolini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "It's not the economy, stupid! How social capital and GDP relate to happiness over time," Papers 1411.2138, arXiv.org.
    9. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
    10. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2012. "Family money, relational life and (class) relative wealth:an empirical analysis on life satisfaction of secondary school students," Econometica Working Papers wp35, Econometica.
    11. Van Landeghem, Bert & Swinnen, Johan F.M. & Vranken, Liesbet, 2008. "Land and Happiness: Land Distribution and Subjective Well-Being in Moldova," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 44375, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    12. BARTOLINI Stefano & SARRACINO Francesco, 2011. "Happy for How Long? How Social Capital and GDP relate to Happiness over Time," LISER Working Paper Series 2011-60, LISER.
    13. Temesgen Kifle, 2014. "Do Comparison Wages Play a Major Role in Determining Overall Job Satisfaction? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 613-638, June.
    14. Odermatt, Reto & Stutzer, Alois, 2017. "Subjective Well-Being and Public Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 11102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    comparison; habituation; income; unemployment; marriage; divorce; health; religion; policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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