Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey
17 Pages Posted: 8 May 2006
This paper investigates the role of television in producing higher material aspirations, by enhancing both adaptation and positional effects. Using a large sample of individuals from the World Values Survey, we find that the effect of income on both life and financial satisfaction is significantly smaller for heavy television viewers than for occasional viewers. This finding is robust to a number of specification checks and alternative interpretations. The results suggest an additional explanation for the income-happiness paradox: the pervasive and increasing role of television viewing in contemporary society, by raising material aspirations, contributes to offset the effect of higher income on individual happiness.
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