New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2007‒11‒03
three papers chosen by

  1. Voting as a Rational Choice: Why and How People Vote to Improve the Well-Being of Others By Aaron Edlin; Andrew Gelman; Noah Kaplan
  2. Les travailleurs du secteur informel sont-ils les plus heureux ?Le cas de l'agglomération d'Antananarivo By Faly Hery Rakotomanana
  3. Inequality Measures as Tests of Fairness in an Economy By Ravi Kanbur; Stuart Sayer; Andy Snell

  1. By: Aaron Edlin; Andrew Gelman; Noah Kaplan
    Abstract: For voters with "social" preferences, the expected utility of voting is approximately independent of the size of the electorate, suggesting that rational voter turnouts can be substantial even in large elections. Less important elections are predicted to have lower turnout, but a feedback mechanism keeps turnout at a reasonable level under a wide range of conditions. The main contributions of this paper are: (1) to show how, for an individual with both selfish and social preferences, the social preferences will dominate and make it rational for a typical person to vote even in large elections;(2) to show that rational socially-motivated voting has a feedback mechanism that stabilizes turnout at reasonable levels (e.g., 50% of the electorate); (3) to link the rational social-utility model of voter turnout with survey findings on socially-motivated vote choice.
    JEL: H0 K21
    Date: 2007–10
  2. By: Faly Hery Rakotomanana (GED, Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV)
    Abstract: Cette étude propose de contribuer au débat sur l’influence sur le bonheur individuel de l’exercice d’une activité dans le secteur informel. Ce thème est d’importance capital pour la mise en œuvre et le suivi du « Madagascar Action Plan », le programme quinquennal de développement de Madagascar, où le développement du secteur privé, en général, et la promotion des activités génératrices de revenus, en particulier, figurent parmi les principaux engagements à tenir. Les résultats de l’étude remettent en cause le fait stylisé avancé par la plupart de la littérature dans ce domaine quant à l’influence négative sur le bonheur individuel de l’exercice d’une activité dans le secteur informel. Les informations descriptives montrent que, malgré les difficultés rencontrées par les travailleurs informels, notamment le sous-emploi, l’installation dans ce secteur n’est pas subie mais largement volontaire, les travailleurs ayant un fort ancrage et un optimisme inébranlable quand à l’avenir de leurs activités. Les résultats économétriques confirment que l’exercice d’un travail dans le secteur informel ne diminue pas systématiquement le niveau de bonheur individuel. Si l’accès au secteur public fournit une forte satisfaction aux travailleurs, les situations entre le secteur privé formel et le secteur informel ne diffèrent pas de façon significative. Par contre, le passage de la situation d’inactivité vers le secteur informel s’accompagne d’une dégradation du niveau de bonheur individuel, en particulier chez les femmes. The present study examines the impact on happiness of the participation in informal sector activity. This topic is very important for the execution and the follow-up of « Madagascar Action Plan »: the national development policy, in which the private sector development, in general, and the promotion of income generating activities, in particular, represent among the mains commitments. The study results invalidate the stylized fact of the negative impact of the informal activity on happiness concluded by most of the literature. Descriptive statistics show that, in spite of difficulties incurred by informal workers, the installation in the informal sector is largely voluntary without constraints, and informal workers are optimist as for the future of their activities. The econometric results confirm that the informal job exercise doesn’t decrease systematically the happiness. If the access to the public sector gives more satisfaction to workers, significantly, there is no difference on happiness level between workers in private formal sector and informal sector. However, inactivity situation generates more happiness than a job in informal sector, particularly for women. (Full text in french)
    JEL: I31 O17
    Date: 2007–10
  3. By: Ravi Kanbur; Stuart Sayer; Andy Snell
    Abstract: Standard measures of inequality have been criticized for a long time on the grounds that they are snap shot measures which do not take into account the process generating the observed distribution. Rather than focusing on outcomes, it is argued, we should be interested in whether the underlying process is “fair”. Following this line of argument, this paper develops statistical tests for fairness within a well defined income distribution generating process and a well specified notion of “fairness”. We find that standard test procedures, such as LR, LM and Wald, lead to test statistics which are closely related to standard measures of inequality. The answer to the “process versus outcomes” critique is thus not to stop calculating inequality measures, but to interpret their values differently–to compare them to critical values for a test of the null hypothesis of fairness.
    Date: 2007–10–26

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.