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

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  • Lohmann, Steffen

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lohmann, Steffen, 2013. "Information technologies and subjective well-being: Does the internet raise material aspirations?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79708, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79708
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew E. Clark & Sarah Flèche & Claudia Senik, 2016. "Economic Growth Evens Out Happiness: Evidence from Six Surveys," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 405-419.
    2. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    3. McDool, Emily & Powell, Philip & Roberts, Jennifer & Taylor, Karl, 2016. "Social Media Use and Children's Wellbeing," IZA Discussion Papers 10412, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:1:p:308-325 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Fulvio Castellacci & Clara Viñas-Bardolet, 2017. "Internet use and job satisfaction," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20170126, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    6. Kreibaum, Merle, 2016. "Their Suffering, Our Burden? How Congolese Refugees Affect the Ugandan Population," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 262-287.
    7. Fulvio Castellacci & Vegard Tveito, 2016. "The Effects of ICTs on Well-being: A Survey and a Theoretical Framework," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20161004, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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