Social Indicators Research

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 439–469

Subjective Well-Being: Keeping Up with the Perception of the Joneses


DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9910-x

Cite this article as:
Guven, C. & Sørensen, B.E. Soc Indic Res (2012) 109: 439. doi:10.1007/s11205-011-9910-x


Using data from the US General Social Survey 1972–2004, we study the role of perceptions and status in self-reported happiness. Reference group income negatively relates to own happiness and high perceptions about own relative income, quality of dwelling, and social class relate positively and very significantly to happiness. Perceptions about income and status matter more for females, and for low income, conservative, more social, and less trusting individuals. Dwelling perceptions matter more for males, and for middle income, married, conservative, more social, and less trusting individuals.


HappinessSocial comparisonStatusPerceptions

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Houston and CEPRHoustonUSA