Life Satisfaction and Income Inequality
World Bank - Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PRMVP); University of Turin - Department of Economics
February 1, 2011
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5574
Do people care about income inequality and does income inequality affect subjective well-being? Welfare theories can predict either a positive or a negative impact of income inequality on subjective well-being and empirical research has found evidence on a positive, negative or non significant relation. This paper attempts to determine some of the possible causes of such empirical heterogeneity. Using a very large sample of world citizens, the author tests the consistency of income inequality in predicting life satisfaction. The analysis finds that income inequality has a negative and significant effect on life satisfaction. This result is robust to changes in regressors and estimation choices and also persists across different income groups and across different types of countries. However, this relation is easily obscured or reversed by multicollinearity generated by the use of country and year fixed effects. This is particularly true if the number of data points for inequality is small, which is a common feature of cross-country or longitudinal studies.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: Inequality, Poverty Impact Evaluation, Economic Theory & Research, Services & Transfers to Poor, Poverty Monitoring & Analysisworking papers series
Date posted: March 7, 2011
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