Income-Comparison Attitudes in the US and the UK: Evidence from Discrete-choice Experiments

37 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2015 Last revised: 20 Nov 2018

See all articles by Hitoshi Shigeoka

Hitoshi Shigeoka

Simon Fraser University (SFU); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Katsunori Yamada

Kindai University, Faculty of Economics; Osaka University - Institute of Social and Economic Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 10, 2016

Abstract

Economists have long been aware of utility externalities such as a tendency to compare own income with others'. If welfare losses from income comparisons are significant, any governmental interventions that alter such attitudes may have large welfare consequences. We conduct an original online survey of discrete-choice questions to estimate such attitudes in the US and the UK. We find that the UK respondents compare incomes more than US respondents do. We then manipulate our respondents with simple information to examine whether the attitudes can be altered. Our information treatment -- providing guidance about the possible negative consequences of one making such an income comparison -- leads UK respondents to make more income comparisons. The mechanism behind the UK results seems to be that our treatment gives moral license to make income comparisons by providing information that others do so.

Keywords: income comparison, discrete-choice experiment, inter-country survey, information treatment, randomized survey experiment

JEL Classification: C09, D01, D03

Suggested Citation

Shigeoka, Hitoshi and Yamada, Katsunori, Income-Comparison Attitudes in the US and the UK: Evidence from Discrete-choice Experiments (April 10, 2016). ISER Discussion Paper No. 930, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2578802

Hitoshi Shigeoka

Simon Fraser University (SFU) ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
(778)782-5348 (Phone)
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HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/hshigeoka/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Katsunori Yamada (Contact Author)

Kindai University, Faculty of Economics ( email )

Higashi-Osaka City, Osaka 577-8502
Japan

HOME PAGE: http://www.eonet.ne.jp/~kyamada/

Osaka University - Institute of Social and Economic Research ( email )

6-1, Mihogaoka
Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0047
Japan

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