nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2007‒08‒18
three papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Did the Decline in Social Capital Decrease American Happiness? A Relational Explanation of the Happiness Paradox By Stefano Bartolini; Ennio Bilancini; Maurizio Pugno
  2. Can a rise in income inequality improve welfare? By Pérez Truglia, Ricardo Nicolás
  3. Human rights, human needs, human development, human security: relationships between four international 'human' discourses. By Gasper, Des

  1. By: Stefano Bartolini; Ennio Bilancini; Maurizio Pugno
    Abstract: Most popular explanations of the happiness paradox cannot fully account for the lack of growth in U.S. reported well-being during the last thirty years (Blanchflower and Oswald (2004)). In this paper we test an alternative hypothesis, namely that the decline in U.S. social capital is responsible for what is left unexplained by previous research. We provide three main findings. First, we show that the inclusion of social capital does improve the account of reported happiness. Second, we provide evidence of a decline in social capital indicators for the period 1975-2004, confirming Putnam's claim (Putnam (2000)). Finally, we show that failed growth of happiness is largely due to the decline of social capital and, in particular, to the decline of its relational and intrinsically motivated component.
    Keywords: happiness, social capital, economic growth, relational goods, instrinsic motivations
    JEL: I3 O1
    Date: 2007–08
  2. By: Pérez Truglia, Ricardo Nicolás
    Abstract: Since status goods are thought not to derive intrinsic utility, the common vision among economists insists that relative concerns make everyone unhappy. Using a signaling-type model, I claim that conspicuous consumption is a natural and efficient response of people to the absence of certain markets. Then I test my conjecture based on panel data for 10,000 respondents in Russia for 2000-2002, exploiting two identification strategies. The following results emerge: i. Regional expenditures inequality does increase the marginal utility derived from consumption; ii. Consumption has an indirect effect on happiness; iii. The presence of status goods can explain a utility function initially concave and then convex, and hence it would be efficient to spread the income of the middle-class; iv. The results remain unchanged after controlling for a wide range of recent theories, such as comparison happiness, happiness dynamics and income equivalence scale elasticity.
    Keywords: Happiness; income; life satisfaction; conspicuous consumption; inequality; welfare.
    JEL: D61 D31 C33
    Date: 2007–01–29
  3. By: Gasper, Des
    Abstract: Human rights, human development and human security form increasingly important, partly interconnected, partly competitive and misunderstood ethical and policy discourses. Each tries to humanize a pre-existing and unavoidable major discourse of everyday life, policy and politics; each has emerged within the United Nations world; each relies implicitly on a conceptualisation of human need; each has specific strengths. Yet mutual communication, understanding and co-operation are deficient, especially between human rights and the other discourses. The paper tries to identify respective strengths, weaknesses, and potential complementarity. It suggests that human security discourse may offer a working alliance between humanized discourses of rights, development and need.
    Keywords: human rights, human development, human needs, human security
    Date: 2007

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