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March 4th 2021, 13:00-14:00: Antje Jantsch (IAMO): “To whom do we compare ourselves? Empirical evidence on reference individuals from a student survey”

Abstract: Empirical evidence supports the hypothesis that an individual’s relative income rather than the absolute level of income determines subjective well-being. However, most empirical studies settle for reference categories, which refer to abstract collectivities (e.g., the citizens of a region) or general socio-demographic strata, such as individuals of similar age or education. Whether such abstract collectivities are congruent with the actual comparison that results from individualized reference groups is not clear. Therefore, addressing this gap in research, the objective of this paper is to first present a unique survey tool to identify reference individuals and their characteristics. Such a tool allows us to investigate in detail to whom and how people compare themselves, and how this affects their subjective well-being. Second, we present first empirical results from a student survey from two universities in Thailand.