Lottery Wins and Satisfaction: Overturning Brickman in Modern Longitudinal Data on Germany

  • Andrew J. Oswald
  • Rainer WinkelmannEmail author


Paradoxically, the published literature on the psychological consequences of lottery wins has found almost no evidence that winners become happier. This famous puzzle was originally documented by the psychologist Philip Brickman and colleagues. Using new German panel data, we offer results that are more in accord with common sense and economic theory. We have been particularly influenced by the pioneering work of Richard Easterlin: in this paper we explicitly consider the idea of ‘domain’ satisfaction levels. First, our estimates show that lottery wins raise people’s satisfaction with their overall income. Second, lottery wins’ increase people’s satisfaction with life. The effects documented here are, as might be expected, especially pronounced for big wins. One of the advantages of our data set is that it allows access to a greater number of large winners than has typically been possible in the published literature.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WarwickWarwickUK
  2. 2.IZA Institute for the Study of LaborBonnGermany
  3. 3.University of ZurichZürichSwitzerland

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