Income Inequality and Subjective Wellbeing: Trends, Challenges, and Research Directions
Research findings on the consequences of income inequality for subjective wellbeing (i.e. life satisfaction and happiness) remain inconclusive. Some researchers report a positive spill-over from income inequality, others report negative effects, and still others find no significant outcomes whatsoever. Therefore, it remains unclear whether people living in areas of high income disparity feel better off or less well off than people living in environments where everyone is more equal. This paper provides a critical discussion of recent research on the inequality-wellbeing link and suggests strategies for social scientists seeking new insights into the consequences of income inequality for subjective welfare.