Social Indicators Research

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 555–578 | Cite as

Life Satisfaction and Education in South Africa: Investigating the Role of Attainment and the Likelihood of Education as a Positional Good

  • Ferdi BothaEmail author


This paper explores various dynamics in the relationship between life satisfaction and education in South Africa using the 2008 National Income Dynamics Survey. The results indicate a strong positive association between educational attainment and individual satisfaction with life, which is true in the overall sample and for men and women. This positive relationship also holds for Black and Coloured individuals, but is insignificant in the Asian and White samples. Evidence indicates that education is a positional good, in that people who have attained more than the mean level of education in their relevant cluster are significantly more satisfied with life compared to those possessing less than the mean education.


Subjective well-being Positional concerns Education South Africa 



I thank an anonymous referee for very helpful comments and suggestions. The financial support of Economic Research Southern Africa is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Economic HistoryRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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