Information Technologies and Subjective Well-Being: Does the Internet Raise Material Aspirations?
CEGE Discussion Paper No. 169
31 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 14, 2013
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: Suggested Citation