Do individuals care about their relative income? While this is a long-standing hypothesis, revealed-preference evidence remains elusive. We provide a unique test by studying residential choices: individuals often must choose between places with different income distributions, and as a result they “choose” their relative income. We conducted a field experiment with 1,080 senior medical students who participated in the National Resident Matching Program. We estimate their preferences by combining choice data, survey data on perceptions, and information-provision experiments. The evidence suggests that individuals care about their relative income and that these preferences differ across single and nonsingle individuals.

Supplementary data

You do not currently have access to this content.