If happiness is relative, against whom do we compare ourselves? Implications for labour supply Articles uri icon



publication date

  • October 2011

start page

  • 1411

end page

  • 1442


  • 4


  • 24

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0933-1433

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-1475


  • This paper addresses two important issues: the nature of the reference group to which individuals compare themselves, and the implications of social comparisons for labour supply. It identifies age as the main characteristic defining the reference group. Race, sex and religion are other relevant features in its determination. It provides micro-level evidence that social comparisons influence the hours an individual works. Specifically, if her income is lower than her reference group income, she will work more. It also shows that for males, white people and people living in rural areas the effect of relative income on both happiness and labour supply is greater.