Handbook of Research on Economic and Social Well-Being
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Handbook of Research on Economic and Social Well-Being

Edited by Conchita D’Ambrosio

The past decade has been characterized by a burgeoning interest in new concepts of individual and social well-being. The impetus for this new research has stemmed from increased demand from policy makers and civil society for measures of progress that go beyond the traditional measures of GDP, as well as improved datasets allowing individuals and households to be tracked over their life course. The aim of this Handbook is to chart these developments and provide extensive surveys of many of the recent themes that have emerged in the research literature. Some of the topics addressed include poverty. relative deprivation and satisfaction, economic insecurity, social exclusion and inequality, income and social polarization, and social fractionalization and diversity. Each topic is first analyzed from a theoretical perspective, followed by detailed empirical discussion.
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Chapter 15: Relative deprivation and satisfaction: theoretical approaches

Lucio Esposito


The concepts of relative deprivation and relative satisfaction, as opposed to inequality, can refer not only to a set of individuals, but also to single individuals. The interest in these concepts is thus motivated by the desire to obtain indicators at the individual level. The chapter starts by presenting evidence of the academic interest in these topics and reviewing the main theoretical models developed, adopting a relativistic specification of utility. It then moves on to the issue of measurement. Different approaches to measurement are introduced. The main indices proposed by the literature and extensions to a dynamic setting are illustrated, and the concept of the reference group is analysed. Concluding remarks focus on the importance of acknowledging interpersonal comparison effects and introducing relativist concerns in models aimed at explaining a wide range of social phenomena.

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