With Whom Do We Compare Our Income? The Effect of Gendered Income Comparisons on Subjective Well-Being
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Income comparisons are often performed through the construction of reference groups based on sociodemographic characteristics. Gender is usually included in these characteristics only when the number of cases is large. However, it has not been demonstrated empirically that people compare their income within or between genders. This study analyses these comparisons using questions collected in three waves of the pretest of the German Socio-Economic Panel. Results suggest that income comparisons are mainly within groups of the same gender. On average, women compare more than men, and this is the case regardless of the gender composition in their sector of employment. Despite the predominance of within-gender comparisons, between-gender comparisons also exist. Indeed regressions that test the impact of income comparisons and reference groups on subjective well-being explain the data better when gender is not included as a dimension of reference.
KeywordsGender Income comparisons Reference groups Employment sectors Subjective well-being
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