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

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC))

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.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00586049.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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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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  1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Diener, Ed & Georgellis, Yannis & Lucas, Richard E., 2008. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0803, CEPREMAP.
  3. D'Ambrosio, Conchita & Frick, Joachim R., 2007. "Individual Well-Being in a Dynamic Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 2618, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Andrew E. Clark & Nicolai Kristensen & Niels Westergård-Nielsen, 2007. "Job satisfaction and co-worker wages: Status or signal?," PSE Working Papers halshs-00587878, HAL.
  5. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia, 2011. "Will GDP Growth Increase Happiness in Developing Countries?," IZA Discussion Papers 5595, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
  7. repec:pse:psecon:2009-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  9. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3508638 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  11. Andrew E. Clark & Orsolya Lelkes, 2009. "Let us pray: religious interactions in life satisfaction," PSE Working Papers halshs-00566120, HAL.
  12. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  13. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Bert Van Landeghem, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 528-538, 04-05.
  14. AndrewE. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 573-594, 05.
  15. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00566120 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  17. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
  18. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Maximising Happiness?," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(2), pages 145-167, 05.
  19. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  20. Andrew Clark, 2001. "Unemployment As A Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," DELTA Working Papers 2001-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  21. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1061-1077, June.
  22. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  23. Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  24. Andrew E. Clark & Fabrice Etilé, 2010. "Happy House: Spousal Weight and Individual Well-Being," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 349, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  25. Clark, Andrew E. & Kristensen, Nicolai & Westergaard-Nielsen, Niels, 2008. "Economic Satisfaction and Income Rank in Small Neighbourhoods," Working Papers 08-25, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  26. Clark, Andrew E., 1999. "Are wages habit-forming? evidence from micro data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-200, June.
  27. repec:pse:psecon:2010-43 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. N Powdthavee, 2008. "Ill-Health as a Household Norm: Evidence from Other People's Health Problems," Discussion Papers 08/21, Department of Economics, University of York.
  29. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness Prospers in Democracy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 79-102, March.
  30. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  31. Claudia Senik, 2002. "When Information Dominates Comparison. A Panel Data Analysis Using Russian Subjective Data," DELTA Working Papers 2002-02, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  32. Wu, Stephen, 2001. "Adapting to heart conditions: a test of the hedonic treadmill," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 495-507, July.
  33. Zizzo, D.J. & Oswald, A., 2000. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others' Incomes?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 568, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  34. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  35. Richard E. Lucas & Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Ed Diener, 2002. "Re-Examining Adaptation and the Setpoint Model of Happiness: Reactions to Changes in Marital Status," DELTA Working Papers 2002-08, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  36. Frank, Robert H. & Hutchens, Robert M., 1993. "Wages, seniority, and the demand for rising consumption profiles," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 251-276, August.
  37. Melenberg, B., 1992. "Micro-econometric models of consumer behaviour and welfare," Other publications TiSEM a96bf8fb-5eca-4a34-8a23-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
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