Leadership

Beyond The Joneses: Inter-Country Income Comparisons And Happiness

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Executive Summary

The paper provides some novel evidence on the burgeoning literature on life satisfaction and relative comparisons by showing that in the last 30 years comparisons with the wellbeing of top income countries have generated progressively more negative feelings on a large sample of individuals in the Euro barometer survey. The paper contributes in two main directions: it shows that countries, and not just neighbors, can be reference groups; it documents a globalization effect by which distant countries become progressively closer and comparisons among them more intense and relevant.

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