Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence of Satiation?
Many scholars have argued that once "basic needs" have been met, higher income is no longer associated with higher in subjective well-being. We assess the validity of this claim in comparisons of both rich and poor countries, and also of rich and poor people within a country. Analyzing multiple datasets, multiple definitions of "basic needs" and multiple questions about well-being, we find no support for this claim. The relationship between well-being and income is roughly linear-log and does not diminish as incomes rise. If there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it.
A shorter version of this paper will appear in the American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings in May 2013. The authors wish to thank Angus Deaton, Daniel Kahneman, and Alan Krueger for useful discussions and The Gallup Organization, where Wolfers serves as a Senior Scientist, for providing data. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Betsey Stevenson receives additional income from occasionally writing op-eds for Bloomberg.
Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2013. "Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence of Satiation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 598-604, May. citation courtesy of