Personal values as mitigating factors in the link between income and life satisfaction : evidence from the European Social Survey
Using data from the first two rounds of the European Social Survey, we examine the link between income, reference income and life satisfaction across Western Europe. We find that whilst there is a strong positive relationship between income and life satisfaction, reference or comparison income exerts a strong negative influence. Interestingly, our results confirm the importance of personal values and beliefs not only as predictors of subjective well-being, but also as mitigating factors in the relationship between income, reference income and life satisfaction. While our findings provide additional empirical support for the relative utility hypothesis, they are also consistent with Rojas’ (J Econ Psychol 28:1–14, 2007) Conceptual-Referent-Theory (CRT), which is based on the premise that the salience of income and comparison income depends on one’s intrinsic values and personal beliefs.