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Information technologies and subjective well-being: Does the internet raise material aspirations?

  • Lohmann, Steffen

Existing work on the economics of well-being suggests that a person's subjective well-being depends to a large degree on his relative standing within his social environment. In this paper, we examine whether access to modern information and telecommunication technologies has an impact on relative concerns by raising material aspirations. We use cross-sectional data from the fifth wave of the World Values Survey and provide empirical evidence that people who regularly use the internet as a source of information derive relatively less life satisfaction from the same level of income. Using panel data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions, we show that households in possession of a computer report needing significantly higher levels of income to make 'ends meet', given their actual level of income and a wide range of socio-economic characteristics. Our results corroborate the hypothesis that modern information technologies raise material aspirations via fostering relative concerns in the society. The empirical findings shed further light on the income-happiness paradox and identify a non-negligible channel how globalization might impact on subjective well-being.

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Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order with number 79708.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79708
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