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Empathy and Emulation : Life Satisfaction and the Urban Geography of Comparison Groups

Author: Christopher P Barrington-Leigh; John F Helliwell
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. National Bureau of Economic Research 2008.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. w14593.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Departures from self-centred, consumption-oriented decision making are increasingly common in economic theory and are well motivated by a wide range of behavioural data from experiments, surveys, and econometric inference. A number of studies have shown large negative externalities in individual subjective well-being due to neighbours' incomes. These reflect the role of nearby households as comparison groups acting  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Christopher P Barrington-Leigh; John F Helliwell
OCLC Number: 1027343492
Notes: December 2008.
Description: 1 online resource.
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. w14593.
Responsibility: Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, John F. Helliwell.

Abstract:

Departures from self-centred, consumption-oriented decision making are increasingly common in economic theory and are well motivated by a wide range of behavioural data from experiments, surveys, and econometric inference. A number of studies have shown large negative externalities in individual subjective well-being due to neighbours' incomes. These reflect the role of nearby households as comparison groups acting in individuals' reference-dependent preferences over income or consumption. At the same time, there are many reasons to expect positive spillovers from having prosperous neighbours. We combine high-resolution geographic data from three Canada-wide social surveys and the 2001 census to disentangle the spatial pattern of reference groups in urban areas and to identify channels of positive and negative spillovers on life satisfaction. We find evidence of significant effects of others' income at different scales and are able to reject a number of alternative explanations for the findings.

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Content-negotiable representations<\/p>\n