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I Can’t Sleep! Relative Concerns and Sleep Behavior

Working paper
Authors Alpaslan Akay
Peter Martinsson
Hilda Ralsmark
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Economics
Language en
Links hdl.handle.net/2077/53950
Keywords Relative Income, Sleeping Satisfaction, Hours of Sleep
Subject categories Economics

Abstract

We investigate the effect of relative concerns with respect to income on the quantity and quality of sleep using a long panel dataset on the sleep behavior of people in Germany. We find that relative income has a substantial negative effect on number of hours of sleep on weekdays and overall satisfaction with sleep, i.e., sleep quality, whereas absolute income has no particular effect on sleep behavior. The findings are robust to several speci.cation checks, including measures of relative concerns, reference group, income inequality, and local price differences. The paper also investigates the importance of the potential channels including working hours, time-use activities, and physical and mental health to explain how relative concerns relate to sleep behavior. The results reveal that while all of these channels partially contribute to the effect, it appears to be mainly driven by physical and mental health and overall and financial well-being/stress. We also use a subjective well-being valuation approach to calculate the monetary value of sleep lost due to income comparisons. The total cost is as high as about 2.6 billion euro/year (1.8% of the overall monetary value of sleep and 1.3% of total health expenditures) among the working-age population in Germany.

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