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Appears in Collections:Economics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Money and happiness: Rank of income, not income, affects life satisfaction
Authors: Boyce, Christopher J
Brown, Gordon D A
Moore, Simon C
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Keywords: rank
relative income
life satisfaction
social comparisons
Issue Date: Apr-2010
Publisher: SAGE
Citation: Boyce CJ, Brown GDA & Moore SC (2010) Money and happiness: Rank of income, not income, affects life satisfaction, Psychological Science, 21 (4), pp. 471-475.
Abstract: Does money buy happiness, or does happiness come indirectly from the higher rank in society that money brings? We tested a rank-income hypothesis, according to which people gain utility from the ranked position of their income within a comparison group. The rank hypothesis contrasts with traditional reference-income hypotheses, which suggest that utility from income depends on comparison to a social reference-group norm. We found that the ranked position of an individual's income predicts general life satisfaction, whereas absolute income and reference income have no effect. Furthermore, individuals weight upward comparisons more heavily than downward comparisons. According to the rank hypothesis, income and utility are not directly linked: Increasing an individual's income will increase his or her utility only if ranked position also increases and will necessarily reduce the utility of others who will lose rank.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: Publisher policy allows this work to be made available in this repository. Published in Psychological Science, April 2010 vol. 21 no. 4 pp.471-475 by SAGE. The original publication is available at
Affiliation: Economics
University of Warwick
Cardiff University

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