Social Indicators Research

, Volume 127, Issue 3, pp 1333–1348 | Cite as

Reference Group Income and Subjective Well-Being: Empirical Evidence from Low-Income Transition Economies

  • Armenak AntinyanEmail author


This paper aims at studying the connection between reference group income and life satisfaction in the three republics of the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. I illustrate that in low-income transition economies individuals make not only upward comparisons, decreasing their subjective well-being if the reference group members are richer than they are, but also downward comparisons, enhancing their subjective well-being if the reference group members are poorer. This result contradicts Duesenberry’s idea that comparisons are mostly upward.


Subjective well-being Reference group Transition economy Upward comparison Downward comparison 

JEL Classifications

D60 D63 I31 P30 



I am grateful to two anonymous referees and to Monica Shahmenendyan at CRRC Armenia. Financial support from Emerging Fields Initiative at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Chair of Economic TheoryUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergNurembergGermany

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