Social Indicators Research

, Volume 103, Issue 3, pp 409–426 | Cite as

Education as a Positional Good: A Life Satisfaction Approach

  • Mª del Mar Salinas-JiménezEmail author
  • Joaquín Artés
  • Javier Salinas-Jiménez


In this paper we empirically investigate the direct effects of education on utility. Besides investment aspects of education, the focus is placed on its consumption component and on education positional concerns. We use data from the World Values Survey (WVS) and adopt a life satisfaction approach. First, we find that education shows a significant effect on life satisfaction independent of its effect on income, thus identifying a consumption component of education. Furthermore, given that the contribution of education to individual wellbeing might depend partly on relative position rather than absolute levels, we next study whether education can be considered as a positional good. To this end we analyse the relationship between education and life satisfaction for people in different income groups in which the reference levels of education may differ. Additionally, we control for occupational status since benefits from education could appear via occupational benefits. Our results indicate that the contribution of education to subjective wellbeing is stronger as less people attain a given level of education, thus suggesting that this contribution is partly due to positional concerns.


Life satisfaction Education Positional goods 



Mª del Mar Salinas-Jiménez and Javier Salinas-Jiménez acknowledge support from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (ECO2009-13864-C03-01 and ECO2009-13864-C03-02).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mª del Mar Salinas-Jiménez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joaquín Artés
    • 2
  • Javier Salinas-Jiménez
    • 2
  1. 1.Universidad de ExtremaduraBadajozSpain
  2. 2.Universidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain

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