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The Relationship between Subjective Wellbeing and Subjective Wellbeing Inequality: Taking Ordinality and Skewness Seriously

Author

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  • Grimes, Arthur

    (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust)

  • Jenkins, Stephen P.

    (London School of Economics)

  • Tranquilli, Florencia

    (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust)

Abstract

We argue that the relationship between individual satisfaction with life (SWL) and SWL inequality is more complex than described by leading earlier research such as Goff, Helliwell, and Mayraz (Economic Inquiry, 2018). Using inequality indices appropriate for ordinal data, our analysis using the World Values Survey reveals that skewness of the SWL distribution, not only inequality, matters for individual SWL outcomes; so too does whether we look upwards or downwards at the (skewed) distribution. Our results are consistent with there being negative (positive) externalities for an individual's SWL from seeing people who are low (high) in the SWL distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Grimes, Arthur & Jenkins, Stephen P. & Tranquilli, Florencia, 2020. "The Relationship between Subjective Wellbeing and Subjective Wellbeing Inequality: Taking Ordinality and Skewness Seriously," IZA Discussion Papers 13692, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13692
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    subjective wellbeing; ordinal data; inequality; skewness; WVS;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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