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Life Satisfaction, Household Income and Personality Traits

Listed author(s):
  • Proto, Eugenio

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

  • Rustichini, Aldo

    (Department of Economics, University of Minnesota)

We show that personality traits mediate the effect of income on Life Satisfaction. The effect is strong in the case of Neuroticism, which measures the sensitivity to threat and punishment, in both the British Household Panel Survey and the German Socioeconomic Panel. Neuroticism increases the usually observed concavity of the relationship : Individuals with higher Neuroticism score enjoy income more than those with lower score if they are poorer and enjoy income less if they are richer. When the interaction between income and neuroticism is introduced, income does not have significant effect on his own. To interpret the results, we present a simple model where we assume that (i) Life Satisfaction is dependent from the gap between aspired and realized income, and this is modulated by Neuroticism and (ii) income increases in aspirations with a slope less than unity, so that the gap between aspired and realized income increase with aspirations. From the estimation of this model we argue that poorer tend to overshoot in their aspiration, while rich tend to under-shoot. The estimation of the model also shows substantial effect of traits on income JEL classification: D03 ; D870 ; C33

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File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2012/twerp_988.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 988.

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Date of creation: 2012
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:988
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  1. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
  8. Cobb-Clark, Deborah & Schurer, Stefanie, 2011. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Working Paper Series 1834, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
  9. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
  10. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
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  13. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Rustichini, Aldo, 2008. "Cognitive Skills Explain Economic Preferences, Strategic Behavior, and Job Attachment," IZA Discussion Papers 3609, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  17. Richard Easterlin, 2005. "Feeding the Illusion of Growth and Happiness: A Reply to Hagerty and Veenhoven," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 429-443, December.
  18. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gall is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Joar Vittersø & Fredrik Nilsen, 2002. "The Conceptual and Relational Structure of Subjective Well-Being, Neuroticism, and Extraversion: Once Again, Neuroticism Is the Important Predictor of Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 57(1), pages 89-118, January.
  20. Boyce, Christopher J. & Wood, Alex M., 2011. "Personality and the marginal utility of income: Personality interacts with increases in household income to determine life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 183-191, April.
  21. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2012. "What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2083-2110, August.
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