Social Indicators Research

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 513–535

Climbing up the Social Ladders: Identity, Relative Income, and Subjective Well-being


DOI: 10.1007/s11205-012-0108-7

Cite this article as:
Chang, WC. Soc Indic Res (2013) 113: 513. doi:10.1007/s11205-012-0108-7


This study incorporates the concept of identity to explain the relationship between relative income and subjective well-being. Based upon the theoretical framework of an identity model developed by Akerlof and Kranton Q J Econ 115:715–753, (2000), the empirical findings of this study suggest that an increase in relative income leads to a gain in positional identity and therefore raises the level of subjective well-being. This approach extends our understanding about the connection between positional concern and subjective well-being and explains the importance of social comparison in shaping individuals’ preferences and tastes. People are concerned about their relative income as it represents a positional identity of social status, dependent upon ideals and norms derived from the interactions between an individual and others within a society.


Identity Relative income Positional concern 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public FinanceNational Taipei UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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