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Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 199–228 | Cite as

Life Satisfaction and Keeping Up with Other Countries

  • Ozan EksiEmail author
  • Neslihan Kaya
Research Paper

Abstract

Micro income studies show that relative income of individuals—with respect to their colleagues, friends, etc.—affects their life satisfaction significantly. This paper attempts to extend these studies by using the idea that people may compare their well-being not only to well-being of their home country folks but also to well-being of other country citizens. Using data from national surveys of 55 countries, carried out from 1973 to 2011, we find that average life satisfaction of a country is significantly affected from how much that country is deprived of income compared to richer countries in the world. Furthermore, per capita income of a country only matters as far as it affects its relative position in the global income distribution. This result, gaining statistical significance after 1990s, is a potential explanation for the paradox that even though richer countries tend to be happier compared to poor ones, a country does not necessarily get happier as its income increases.

Keywords

Life satisfaction Relative deprivation Global comparison groups 

JEL Classification

I31 O57 Z13 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsTOBB University of Economics and TechnologyAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.Research and Monetary Policy DepartmentCentral Bank of the Republic of TurkeyAnkaraTurkey

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