Which Inequality Makes People Dissatisfied with Their Lives? Evidence of the Link Between Life Satisfaction and Inequalities


DOI: 10.1007/s11205-017-1623-3

Cite this article as:
Ravazzini, L. & Chávez-Juárez, F. Soc Indic Res (2017). doi:10.1007/s11205-017-1623-3


This paper aims at establishing a clear link between different types of inequality and life satisfaction in Europe. We analyse the relationship between life satisfaction and both income inequality and inequality of opportunity using seven waves of the European Social Survey. The results show that in Europe both income inequality and inequality of opportunity reduce people’s life satisfaction. Our main results suggest that all socio-economic groups are dissatisfied with income inequality, whereas primarily low socio-economic individuals worry about inequality of opportunity. We find that expected mobility is very important in explaining the link between inequality and life satisfaction for all socio-economic groups in Europe. We advance the hypothesis that life satisfaction is conditioned by a mix of normative arguments against inequality and by the fear/possibility to lose/gain a good social position. This result complements findings on the mediating role of social mobility in the relationship with subjective well-being.


Subjective well-being Income inequality Inequality of opportunity 

JEL Classification:

D31 I31 J62 

Supplementary material

11205_2017_1623_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (162 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 162 KB)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
  • 100017_143320

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyUniversity of NeuchatelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  2. 2.Laboratorio Nacional de Políticas Públicas (LNPP)Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)Mexico CityMexico
  3. 3.Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS)University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.CONACYT-Institución de comisión-Dirección de Institución de comisiónMexico CityMexico

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