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 16: Relative deprivation and satisfaction: empirical findings

Paolo Verme

Abstract

The chapter provides a review of the empirical literature in economics that has attempted to test the relative income hypothesis as put forward by Duesemberry (1949) and the relative deprivation hypothesis as formalized by Runciman (1966). It is argued that these two hypotheses and the empirical models used to test these two hypotheses are essentially similar and make use of the same relative income concept. The review covers the main intellectual contributions that led to the formulation and tests of these hypotheses, the main formulations of the utility and econometric equations used in empirical studies, the main econometric issues that complicate the testing of the hypotheses, and the empirical results found in the literature. The majority of studies use absolute and relative income together as explanatory factors in utility models and find absolute income to have a positive and significant effect on utility (happiness). The majority of studies also find relative income to be a significant factor in explaining utility, but the sign of this relation varies across studies. The source of this variation is complex to detect because very few results are directly comparable across studies due to differences in model specifications.

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