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Relative deprivation has been documented since the earliest writings known to humanity. Relative deprivation has important consequences for both behavior and attitudes, including feelings of stress, political attitudes, and participation in collective action. It is relevant to researchers studying multiple fields in social sciences. This entry analyzes the concept of relative deprivation and its extensions with many real-world examples, its main impact on a wide range of economic behaviors and well-being indicators, and its key implications for public policies.

Relative deprivation describes the discontent one feels when deprived of something to which one believes oneself to be entitled when one compares one’s position with others but realizes that one has less of it than those around him or her. According to Walter Runciman, who is among ...

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