April 2006

IZA DP No. 2083: Ambition and Jealousy: Income Interactions in the "Old" Europe versus the "New" Europe and the United States

published in: Economica, 2008, 75 (299), 495-513

This paper asks how income distribution affects individual well-being and tries to explore the idea that this relation depends on the degree of mobility and uncertainty in the economy. It mostly concentrates on the relation between satisfaction and reference income (defined as the income of one’s professional peers), and hinges on the micro-econometric analysis of household survey data (mostly panel), including subjective attitudinal questions. Using over one million observations, it uncovers a divide between "old" -low mobility- European countries versus "new" European post-Transition countries and the United States. Whereas "jealousy" is dominant in the former, "ambition" is even stronger in the latter.