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Beyond the Joneses: Inter-country income comparisons and happiness

  • Leonardo Becchetti


    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

  • Stefano Castriota


    (University of Perugia)

  • Elena Giachin


    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

Our paper provides some novel evidence on the burgeoning literature on life satisfaction and relative comparisons by showing that in the last 30 years comparisons with the wellbeing of top income countries have generated progressively more negative feelings on a large sample of individuals in the Eurobarometer survey. The paper contributes in two main directions: (i) it shows that countries, and not just neighbors, can be reference groups; (ii) it documents a globalization effect by which distant countries become progressively closer and comparisons among them more intense and relevant. Our findings may be interpreted in support of the well known hypothesis that migratory decisions are affected by the gap in economic wellbeing between origin and destination country since they document that such gap affects individual life satisfaction.

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Paper provided by ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality in its series Working Papers with number 189.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2011-189
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