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Social comparisons and inequality

Perceptions of inequality through social comparisons and transference on subjective wellbeing: a micro perspective on reference groups

Thematic complex:
Fostering sustainable rural livelihoods in the age of migration
Project duration:
01.01.2019 - 30.06.2023
Investigated countries:

A person may have a perception of inequality when comparing his/her living conditions with those of others. Thus, social comparisons are the link between inequality and subjective wellbeing. However, at present there is little evidence regarding the delineation of the exact reference group of people for social comparisons. Therefore, we develop a survey instrument, which methodologically accurately defines individual reference groups. We adapt the name generator (an empirically proven instrument from the area of sociology) to create individualized reference groups, which will be assessed against standard reference categories by employing regression analysis relating to subjective wellbeing. Moreover, individual inequality measures will be tested against objective and other subjective measures of inequality. We choose Thailand as the case study because, as an emerging economy, Thailand is plagued by severe forms of inequality. Furthermore, Thai society is highly collectivistic. Everything is mediated through the eyes of one’s peers. Thus, Thailand is ideal for investigating the composition of individual reference groups within the inequality-wellbeing nexus.

Project partners



		Dr. Thomas Dufhues

Dr. Thomas Dufhues

Research Associate
Room: 046

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Project Staff

Dr. Antje Jantsch
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Prof. Dr. Gertrud Buchenrieder (Project leader)

Dr. Thomas Dufhues
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Dr. Judith Möllers (Project leader)
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