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Subjective economic inequality is associated with lower well-being through more upward comparison and lower trust.

Authors
  • Du, Hongfei1, 2
  • Huang, Yajing3
  • Ma, Lijun4
  • Chen, Xin5
  • Chi, Peilian6
  • King, Ronnel B7
  • 1 Institute of Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai, China. , (China)
  • 2 Center for Studies of Psychological Application, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China. , (China)
  • 3 University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Zhongshan Institute, Zhongshan, China. , (China)
  • 4 Department of Psychology, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China. , (China)
  • 5 Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China. , (China)
  • 6 Department of Psychology, University of Macau, Macau, China. , (China)
  • 7 Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China. , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Applied psychology. Health and well-being
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
16
Issue
1
Pages
25–41
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/aphw.12467
PMID: 37436073
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Individuals often misconstrue the actual degree of economic inequality, which might account for the ambiguity in the literature about the role that inequality plays in well-being. Instead of focusing on objective inequality, we propose a subjective inequality approach by investigating the long-term association between subjective economic inequality and well-being (N = 613). We found that subjective inequality predicted lower life satisfaction and higher depression one year later, which were accounted for by more upward socioeconomic comparison and lower trust. Furthermore, the negative association between subjective inequality and well-being remained constant, regardless of individuals' objective socioeconomic status (SES), subjective SES, and mindset of SES. The long-term association between subjective inequality and well-being remained robust after controlling for prior levels of well-being and multiple covariates. Our findings revealed that subjective inequality is detrimental to well-being and opens a new window into psychological research on economic inequality. © 2023 International Association of Applied Psychology.

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