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Income, Aspirations and the Hedonic Treadmill in a Poor Society

John Knight and Ramani Gunatilaka

No 468, Economics Series Working Papers from University of Oxford, Department of Economics

Abstract: A specially designed household survey for rural China is used to analyse the determinants of aspirations for income, proxied by reported minimum income need, and the determinants of subjective well-being, both satisfaction with life and satisfaction with income. It is found that aspiration income is a positive function of actual income and reference income, and that subjective well-being is raised by actual income but lowered by aspiration income. These findings suggests the existence of a partial hedonic treadmill, and can help to explain why subjective well-being in China appears not to have risen despite rapid economic growth.

Keywords: Adaptation; Aspirations; China; Easterlin Paradox; Happiness; Hedonic treadmill; Subjective well-being (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D60 O12 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009-12-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna, nep-hap, nep-ltv and nep-tra
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Journal Article: Income, aspirations and the Hedonic Treadmill in a poor society (2012) Downloads
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