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Does Envy Destroy Social Fundamentals? The Impact of Relative Income Position on Social Capital

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  • Justina A.V. Fischer

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  • Benno Torgler

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Abstract

Research evidence on the impact of relative income position on individual attitudes and behaviour is sorely lacking. Therefore, this paper assesses such positional impact on social capital by applying 14 different measurements to International Social Survey Programme data from 25 countries. We find support for a positional concern effect or ‘envy’ whose magnitude in several cases is quite substantial. The results indicate that such an effect is non-linear. In addition, we find an indication that absolute income level is also relevant. Lastly, changing the reference group (regional versus national) produces no significant differences in the results.

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  • Justina A.V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2006. "Does Envy Destroy Social Fundamentals? The Impact of Relative Income Position on Social Capital," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2006 2006-04, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2006:2006-04
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    Cited by:

    1. Lampi, Elina & Nordblom, Katarina, 2010. "Money and success - Sibling and birth-order effects on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 131-142, February.
    2. 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.
    3. Stefan Trautmann, 2010. "Individual fairness in Harsanyi’s utilitarianism: operationalizing all-inclusive utility," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(4), pages 405-415, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Relative income position; envy; positional concerns; social capital; social norms; happiness;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General

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