For the Moral Markets Research Project he assists prof. Johan Graafland with data collection and econometric analysis.”
Deelproject(en) in het Goede Markten Project
Selection of Publications
Lous, Bjorn; Graafland, Johan
Who Becomes Unhappy when Income Inequality Increases? Journal Article
In: Applied Research in Quality of Life, 2021.
Literature has established that, on a macroeconomic level, income inequality has a negative effect on average life satisfaction. An unresolved question is, however, which income groups are harmed by income inequality. In this paper we investigate this relationship at the microeconomic level combining national indicators of income inequality with individual data of life satisfaction from the World Values Survey for 39 countries over a period of 25 years. Tests on moderation by income category show that the Gini coefficient is most negatively related to life satisfaction of the lowest income groups, but the negative effects also extends to other income groups. For the income share of the top 1% we find a similar result. These findings show that income inequality is especially a concern for the lower income groups, but that the harmful effect of income inequality also spillovers to the life satisfaction of other income groups.
Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research (CentER), 2020, ISBN: 978 90 5668 620 8.
Even though on average Western countries are richer than ever before, an undercurrent of widespread discomfort and uncertainty has been revealed in recent years. This has led to renewed critical interest in the foundations and assumptions of the capitalist economic model. This thesis focuses on the role of inequality in the functioning of the economy. Specifically, three relationships are investigated. The first empirical chapter sets the general context, looking at the effect of economic freedom on (country-level) life satisfaction through income inequality. The second research chapter analyzes the effect of income inequality on trust and inequality in life satisfaction. The third and fourth chapters zoom in on the microeconomic level, discussing how national income inequality relates to individual life satisfaction, and to individual inclination to trust other people. In addition, the differences between different income groups are investigated, as well as between other socio-demographically defined groups.
Graafland, Johan; Lous, Bjorn
In: Journal of Happiness Studies, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 1717–1737, 2019, ISSN: 1573-7780.
Literature has argued that income inequality crowds out trust. However, whether income inequality makes people less trusting depends on how they perceive income inequality within their personal social context and social cognition. In this paper we therefore conjecture that the relationship of income inequality to trust depends on how income inequality affects inequality of life satisfaction. If life satisfaction inequality is high, distrust is generated among the least happy. This will increase polarization and the risk of rebellion, thereby also affecting trust among the happier people. Thus, life satisfaction inequality may be an essential factor in the relationship between income inequality and trust. In previous literature, the potential mediating role of life satisfaction inequality in the relationship between income inequality and social trust has not yet received attention. We test our model by panel analysis on 25 OECD countries in the period 1990--2014. The panel analysis shows that income inequality increases life satisfaction inequality and that both income inequality and life satisfaction inequality have a significant negative impact on social trust. Mediation tests show complementary mediation: besides the direct negative effect of income inequality on trust, we find an indirect effect mediated by life satisfaction inequality. This indirect effect counts for 20% of the total effect of income inequality on trust. Our results imply that policy options for increasing trust are not limited to countering income inequality, but can also include policy measures that directly reduce inequality of life satisfaction.
Graafland, Johan; Lous, Bjorn
In: Journal of Happiness Studies, vol. online first, pp. 1-23, 2017.
Since Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century in 2014, scientific interest into the impact of income inequality on society has been on the rise. However, little is known about the mediating role of income inequality in the relationship between market institutions and subjective well-being. Using panel analysis on a sample of 21 OECD countries to test the effects of five different types of economic freedom on income inequality, we find that fiscal freedom, free trade and freedom from government regulation increase income inequality, whereas sound money decreases income inequality. Income inequality is found to have a negative effect on life satisfaction. Mediation tests show that income inequality mediates the influence of fiscal freedom, free trade and freedom from government regulation on life satisfaction.