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Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Effect of Income on Happiness Levels

Drakopoulos, Stavros A. and Grimani, Katerina (2013): Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Effect of Income on Happiness Levels. Published in: The Happiness Compass: Theories, Actions and Perspectives for Well-Being, F. Sarracino (ed), Nova Science Publ., New York, (October 2013): pp. 295-309.

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Abstract

Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchical needs has been employed by a large variety of conceptual frameworks. The theory can also offer additional insights to the research field which investigates the relationship between income and reported happiness levels. The incorporation of needs hierarchy into a happiness framework implies that individuals have a priority approach to happiness. This means that the most important needs must be satisfied first before the secondary needs come into the picture. In terms of income-happiness relationship, it suggests that income is very important for happiness up to a certain level of income. For higher income levels this effect becomes much weaker, given that the satisfaction of non-basic needs becomes important. The chapter tests this idea by using the European Foundation European Quality of Life Survey 2007 which contains data from 30 European countries and Turkey. In the proposed model, reported happiness is placed as a dependent variable and income level as an independent variable. The ordered probit model (with robust standard errors) is the main statistical tool of the work. The empirical results indicate that there is a strong positive relationship between income and happiness for low income households group, and a non-significant relationship between income and happiness for high income households group. This result supports the presence of hierarchical behaviour. The model also contains personal variables such as gender, age, marital status, educational level, number of children, working hours per week, country dummy variables and employment status. The relationship of these variables to reported happiness levels is also examined. Finally, there is a comparison of the empirical findings to results in the relevant literature.

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