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The Effect of Income Inequality on Happiness Inequality in India: A Recentered Influence Function Regression Estimation and Life Satisfaction Inequality Decomposition

Lakshmanasamy T and K. Maya

Indian Journal of Human Development, 2020, vol. 14, issue 2, 161-181

Abstract: It is now an accepted stylised fact that increase in happiness level in any country is not commensurate with growth in income, a puzzle known as Easterlin Paradox. This paper analyses the income-happiness relationship in India and tries to explain the flat happiness response to income change in terms of rising income inequality. Income growth propels inequality and so also inequality in well-being. Empirically the effects of income inequality, absolute income, relative income, rank position and social capital indices are analysed using World Value Survey data for 12 states of India over 24 years from 1990 to 2014. As the variation in the 10-point scale measure of life satisfaction level is narrow, an recentered influence function (RIF) regression of variance and Gini of life satisfaction are estimated. The life satisfaction inequality is decomposed into composition and coefficients effects using Blinder–Oaxaca (B–O) decomposition method. The estimated RIF coefficients reveal significant effects on life satisfaction inequality of various income measures and social capital indices. The B–O decomposition shows that the functional relationship between material aspirations and life satisfaction, contribute significantly to rising life satisfaction inequality relative to changes over time in happiness influencing factors. Reducing income inequality and improving trust, sociability, health, education and employment over time and space could reduce life satisfaction inequality and improve happiness level in India.

Keywords: Happiness inequality; income inequality; relative income; social capital; recentered influence function regression; Gini and variance decomposition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1177/0973703020948468

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