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Inequality and Happiness

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  • Biancotti, Claudia

    () (Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit)

  • D'Alessio, Giovanni

    () (Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit)

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between inequality and happiness through the lens of heterogeneous values, beliefs and inclinations. Drawing upon opinion data from the European Social Survey for twenty-three countries, we found that individual views on a wide range of themes can be effectively summarized by two orthogonal dimensions: moderation and inclusiveness. The former is defined as a tendency to take mild stands on issues rather than extreme ones; the latter is defined as the degree of support for a social model that grants equal rights and opportunities to everyone who willingly subscribes to a shared set of rules, regardless of background and circumstances. These traits matter when it comes to how inequality affects subjective well-being; specifically, those who are either more moderate or more inclusive than their average compatriot tend to dislike inequality. With reference to moderation, inequality aversion can be read in terms of a desire for stability: people who are reluctant to take strong stands probably dislike conflict, tension and unrest, which normally accompany inequalities. With ref- erence to inclusiveness, the main element at play is likely to be distress accruing to a perception of unfairness.

Suggested Citation

  • Biancotti, Claudia & D'Alessio, Giovanni, 2007. "Inequality and Happiness," AICCON Working Papers 45-2007, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:aiccon:2007_045
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    Cited by:

    1. Jesper Rözer & Gerbert Kraaykamp, 2013. "Income Inequality and Subjective Well-being: A Cross-National Study on the Conditional Effects of Individual and National Characteristics," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 1009-1023, September.
    2. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2008:i:24:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Russell Smyth & Xiaolei Qian, 2008. "Inequality and Happiness in Urban China," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 4(24), pages 1-10.
    4. Juncal Cuñado & Fernando Gracia, 2012. "Does Education Affect Happiness? Evidence for Spain," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 108(1), pages 185-196, August.
    5. Nadir Preziosi, 2013. "Life is Getting Worse in ESS Data: Is This Due to Micro or Macro Factors?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 28, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; inequality; heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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