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Top incomes and subjective well-being

Working Paper 2018-471


We use data from the World Wealth & Income Database, the European Values Surveys and World Values Surveys to estimate the relationship between top income shares and subjective well-being in a sample of 35 countries observed between 1980s and 2010s (139 surveys and more than 200,000 respondents). Results show that top 1% income shares are positively associated with happiness, but not with life satisfaction. The effect is present in a subsample of Western countries. We discuss possible explanations for the positive association between top income shares and happiness.

Authors: Michal Brzezinski.

Keywords: top incomes, subjective well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, income inequality, World Wealth & Income Database.
JEL: D63, I31.