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Preferences, income, and life satisfaction: An equivalence result

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  • Strulik, Holger

Abstract

In this paper I investigate the nexus between life time utility (life satisfaction) and income predicted by the standard model of endogenous economic growth under different behavioral assumptions. The solution rationalizes why the empirical association between income and life satisfaction is approximately log-linear. I show that the solution is observationally equivalent when individuals compare their consumption (i) with others, (ii) with their own past consumption achievements, and (iii) not at all (ordinary preferences). This finding suggests that the observed slope of the income - life satisfaction curve is uninformative about human behavior driven by referencedependent utility. In particular, the hypothesis that the flattening of the life satisfaction curve at high income levels indicates that people are comparing their consumption too much with others or own past achievements is not supported by the workhorse model of endogenous economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Strulik, Holger, 2013. "Preferences, income, and life satisfaction: An equivalence result," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 171, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:171
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    Cited by:

    1. Holger Strulik, 2015. "How Status Concerns Can Make Us Rich and Happy," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82, pages 1217-1240, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    status; habit formation; happiness; economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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