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Income and Well-being

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  • Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell

    (Faculty of Economics and Econometrics, SEO, Amsterdam Economics, University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

This paper presents an empirical analysis of the importance of 'comparison income' for individual well-being or happiness. In other words, the influence of the income of a reference group on individual well-being is examined. The main novelty is that various hypotheses are tested: importance of own income, relevance of the income of the reference group and of the distance between own income and the income of the reference group, and asymmetry of comparisons, i.e. the comparison income effect differing between richer and poor individuals. The analysis uses a self-reported measure of satisfaction with life as a measure of individual well-being. The data come from a large German panel known as GSOEP. The study concludes that the income of the reference group is about as important as own income for individual happiness, that individuals are happier the larger their income is in comparison with the income of the reference group, and that for some populations this comparison effect is asymmetric.

Suggested Citation

  • Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "Income and Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-019/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20020019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    2. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2003. "Is the Structure of Happiness Equations the Same in Poor and Rich Countries? The Case of South Africa," Development and Comp Systems 0309003, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Nov 2003.
    3. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Bernard Van Praag, 2003. "Income Satisfaction Inequality and its Causes," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 1(2), pages 107-127, August.
    4. Esperanza Vera-Toscano & Victoria Ateca-Amestoy & Rafael Serrano-Del-Rosal, 2006. "Building Financial Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 77(2), pages 211-243, June.
    5. Walczuch, R.M. & Lundgren, H., 2003. "Moderated trust - the impact of power distance and uncertainty avoidance on the consumer trust formation process in e-retailing," Research Memorandum 054, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    6. Maite Blázquez Cuesta & Elena Cottini & Herrarte, A. (Ainhoa), 2012. "GINI DP 39: Socioeconomic Gradient in Health: How Important is Material Deprivation?," GINI Discussion Papers 39, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    7. Esperanza Vera-Toscano & Victoria Ateca-Amestoy, 2008. "The relevance of social interactions on housing satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 86(2), pages 257-274, April.
    8. Matthew J. Easterbrook & Toon Kuppens & Antony S. R. Manstead, 2016. "The Education Effect: Higher Educational Qualifications are Robustly Associated with Beneficial Personal and Socio-political Outcomes," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 1261-1298, April.
    9. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 124(2), pages 191-231.
    10. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "Testing Theories of Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 147, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    11. Isabella Santini & Anna de Pascale, "undated". "Social capital and its impact on poverty reduction: measurement issues in longitudinal and cross-country comparisons. Towards a unified framework in the European Union," Working Papers 101/12, Sapienza University of Rome, Metodi e Modelli per l'Economia, il Territorio e la Finanza MEMOTEF.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Comparison Income; Interdependence of Preferences; Reference Group; Relative Utility; Subjective Well-Being;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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