Consumption and happiness

Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng, Russell Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the relationship between (relative) consumption and happiness using panel data for China, an important developing country. We find that consumption has a positive effect on happiness. An increase in the average consumption of those of the same age, education and gender at the community level has a positive effect on happiness, consistent with a signalling effect, while an increase in the consumption of the highest spenders in this group engenders a jealousy effect. There is mixed evidence that conspicuous consumption and consumption that increases social connectedness increases happiness, while relative deprivation in visible consumption has strong negative effects on happiness. Our findings add to the literature on the effect of relativities in influencing individual happiness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-136
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Issue number1
Early online date20 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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