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Competition and well-being: does market competition make people unhappy?

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  • Fischer, Justina AV

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

Abstract

Empirical research on the role of economic institutions for subjective well-being is still widely lacking, while recent economic-experimental outcomes suggest that experienced utility may depend on the intensity of market competition. This paper is the first to empirically analyze the implication of market competition for subjective well-being using real-life survey data on 80,000 individuals in more than 60 countries from the World Values Survey 1997-2001. In support of our hypothesis, we find that market competition aggravates the impact of individual’s bargaining position in economic transactions on her subjective well-being – compared to the least powerful in society. Put differently, we find that market competition enlarges the happiness differences caused by cleavages in socio-economic position. Our results also suggest that competition induced welfare changes are not gender-specific, while a stronger rule of law appears to prevent the generation of such additional benefits or losses. Particularly the latter results call for further economic-experimental corroboration in the laboratory, but also bear important policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Justina AV, 2008. "Competition and well-being: does market competition make people unhappy?," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 697, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0697
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    File URL: http://swopec.hhs.se/hastef/papers/hastef0697.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    2. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Riedl, Arno, 1998. "Gift exchange and reciprocity in competitive experimental markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-34, January.
    3. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-938, October.
    4. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, May.
    5. Christopher F Baum & Mark E Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2002. "IVREG2: Stata module for extended instrumental variables/2SLS and GMM estimation," Statistical Software Components S425401, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 19 Apr 2018.
    6. Helliwell, John F. & Huang, Haifang, 2008. "How's Your Government? International Evidence Linking Good Government and Well-Being," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(04), pages 595-619, October.
    7. Christian Bjørnskov & Axel Dreher & Justina Fischer, 2008. "Cross-country determinants of life satisfaction: exploring different determinants across groups in society," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 30(1), pages 119-173, January.
    8. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
    9. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2007. "Is It Culture or Democracy? The Impact of Democracy and Culture on Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 82(3), pages 505-526, July.
    10. Fischer, Justina A. V. & Torgler, Benno, 2007. "Social Captial and Relative Income Concerns: Evidence from 26 Countries," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt8sv0k59c, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    11. 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.
    12. Bjørnskov, Christian & Drehe, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2008. "On decentralization and life satisfaction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 147-151, April.
    13. Kachelmeier, Steven J. & Shehata, Mohamed, 1992. "Culture and competition: A laboratory market comparison between China and the West," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-168, October.
    14. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Justina A.V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2013. "Do Positional Concerns Destroy Social Capital: Evidence From 26 Countries," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1542-1565, April.
    2. Leonardo Becchetti & Andrew E. Clark & Elena Giachin Ricca, 2011. "The Value of Diplomacy: Bilateral Relations and Immigrant Well-Being," CEIS Research Paper 190, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 29 Mar 2011.
    3. Leonardo Becchetti & Andrew E. Clark & Elena Giachin Ricca, 2011. "The Value of Diplomacy: Bilateral Relations and Immigrant Well-Being," CEIS Research Paper 190, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 29 Mar 2011.
    4. Fischer, Justina A. V. & Torgler, Benno, 2007. "Social Captial and Relative Income Concerns: Evidence from 26 Countries," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt8sv0k59c, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    5. Bjørnskov, Christian & Dreher, Axel & Fischer, Justina A.V., 2010. "Formal institutions and subjective well-being: Revisiting the cross-country evidence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 419-430, December.
    6. Böckerman, Petri & Ilmakunnas, Pekka & Johansson, Edvard, 2011. "Job security and employee well-being: Evidence from matched survey and register data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 547-554, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; happiness; utility; competition; rule of law; completeness of contract; laboratory experiment; World Values Survey;

    JEL classification:

    • C99 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Other
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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