Information Technologies and Subjective Well-Being: Does the Internet Raise Material Aspirations?

CEGE Discussion Paper No. 169

31 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013

See all articles by Steffen Lohmann

Steffen Lohmann

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Date Written: August 14, 2013

Abstract

This paper examines whether access to modern information technologies, in particular the internet, has an impact on invididual positionality – meaning the degree to which subjective well-being is affected by income relative to others rather than absolute income. We provide empirical evidence that positionality and internet access are intertwined. Exploiting variation over time in a panel of European households, we find stated material aspirations to be significantly positively related to computer access in areas with advanced internet infrastructure. Furthermore, we report cross-sectional evidence from the World Values Survey suggesting an indirect negative effect of internet access on subjective well-being since people who regularly use the internet as a source of information derive less satisfaction from income. Together, the empirical findings highlight the importance of information sets for how individuals evaluate own living conditions relative to others and suggests a vital role for informational globalisation to affect positionality.

Keywords: Subjective well-being, positionality, relative income, informational globalisation

JEL Classification: D03, I31

Suggested Citation

Lohmann, Steffen, Information Technologies and Subjective Well-Being: Does the Internet Raise Material Aspirations? (August 14, 2013). CEGE Discussion Paper No. 169, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2309939 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2309939

Steffen Lohmann (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5
Göttingen, 37073
Germany

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