Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 2389–2406 | Cite as

How Does the Life Satisfaction of the Poor, Least Educated, and Least Satisfied Change as Average Life Satisfaction Increases?

  • Ann L. OwenEmail author
  • Anne Phillips
Research Paper


We study subjective life satisfaction inequality in the United States using panel data from the 2005 to 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. We aggregate individual level data to the state level and study how the average self-reported life satisfaction of various income, education, and life satisfaction groups changes with the average self-reported life satisfaction of the state. We find that the subjective life satisfaction of the least satisfied does not increase in equal proportion with the average life satisfaction of society, suggesting that increasing satisfaction levels are likely to lead to greater life satisfaction inequality. However, the life satisfaction of the poorest and least educated does increase in equal proportions with average life satisfaction.


Inequality Life satisfaction of poor Life satisfaction of educated 



We are grateful for helpful comments from Jeffrey Pliskin, Stephen Wu, and two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hamilton CollegeClintonUSA

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