Income Inequality Affects the Psychological Health of Only the People Facing Scarcity.

Published on Oct 12, 2018in Psychological Science
· DOI :10.1177/0956797618798620
Nicolas Sommet8
Estimated H-index: 8
(UNIL: University of Lausanne),
Davide Morselli17
Estimated H-index: 17
(UNIL: University of Lausanne),
Dario Spini19
Estimated H-index: 19
(UNIL: University of Lausanne)
Following the status-anxiety hypothesis, the psychological consequences of income inequality should be particularly severe for economically vulnerable individuals. Oddly, however, income inequality is often found to affect vulnerable low-income and advantaged high-income groups equally. We argue that economic vulnerability is better captured by a financial-scarcity measure and hypothesize that income inequality primarily impairs the psychological health of people facing scarcity. First, repeated cross-sectional international data (from the World Values Survey: 146,034 participants; 105 country waves) revealed that the within-country effect of national income inequality on feelings of unhappiness was limited to individuals facing scarcity (≈25% of the World Values Survey population). Second, longitudinal national data (Swiss Household Panel: 14,790 participants; 15,595 municipality years) revealed that the within-life-course effect of local income inequality on psychological health problems was also limite...
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