nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2008‒02‒23
eight papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Sustainable Nations: What do Aggregate Indicators tell us? By J. Ram Pillarisetti; Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh
  2. Inequality, Happiness and Relative Concerns: What Actually is their Relationship? By Ed Hopkins
  3. Clash of Career and Family. Fertility Decisions after Job Displacement By Del Bono, Emilia; Weber, Andrea; Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf
  4. New Thinking on Poverty: Implications for Globalisation and Poverty Reduction Strategies By Paul Shaffer
  5. Poverty Measurement in Economics (In French) By Patrick MOYES (GREThA)
  6. Wealth inequality and household structure: US vs. Spain By Olympia Bover
  7. Unemployment and Mortality in France, 1982-2002 By Tom Buchmueller; Michel Grignon; Florence Jusot
  8. Psychosocial Resources and Social Health Inequalities in France: Exploratory Findings from a General Population Survey By Florence Jusot; Michel Grignon; Paul Dourgnon

  1. By: J. Ram Pillarisetti (University of Brunei Darussalam); Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh (Autonomous University of Barcelona, ICREA, and VU University Amsterdam)
    Abstract: What is a 'sustainable nation’ and how can we identify and rank ‘sustainable nations’? Are nations producing and consuming in a sustainable way? Aggregate indicators have been proposed to answer these questions. This paper quantitatively compares three aggregate indicators of sustainability: the World Bank’s ‘Genuine Savings’ measure, the ‘Ecological Footprint’ and the ‘Environmental Sustainability Index’. It is concluded that rankings of sustainable nations vary significantly among these indicators. Implications of this disagreement for analysis and policy are suggested.
    Keywords: Adjusted Net Savings; Ecological Debt; Ecological Footprint; Environmental Sustainability Index; Genuine Savings; Sustainability
    JEL: O1 Q2 Q28 F0
    Date: 2008–01–24
  2. By: Ed Hopkins
    Abstract: This paper briefly and informally surveys different theoretical models of relative concerns and their relation to inequality. Models of inequity aversion in common use in experimental economics imply a negative relation between inequality and happiness. In contrast, empirical studies on happiness typically employ models of relative concerns that assume that increases in others’ income always have a negative effect on own happiness. However, in these latter models, the relation between inequality and happiness can be positive. One possible solution is a rivalry model where a distinction is made between endowment and reward inequality which have respectively a negative and positive effect on happiness. These different models and their contrasting results may clarify why the empirical relationship between inequality and happiness has been difficult to establish.
    Keywords: : inequality, relative position, social preferences, tournaments, evolution.
    Date: 2008–02–11
  3. By: Del Bono, Emilia (ISER, University of Essex and IZA, Bonn); Weber, Andrea (UC Berkeley and IHS Vienna, IZA, Bonn and CESifo); Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf (University of Linz and IHS Vienna, IZA, Bonn and CEPR)
    Abstract: In this paper we investigate how fertility decisions respond to unexpected career interruptions which occur as a consequence of job displacement. Using an event study approach we compare the birth rates of displaced women with those of women unaffected by job loss after establishing the pre-displacement comparability of these groups. Our results reveal that job displacement reduces average fertility by 5 to 10% in both the short and medium term (3 and 6 years) and that these effects are largely explained by the response of white collar women. Using an instrumental variable approach we provide evidence that the reduction in fertility is not due to the income loss generated by unemployment but arises because displaced workers undergo a career interruption. These results are interpreted in the light of a model in which the rate of human capital accumulation slows down after the birth of a child and all specific human capital is destroyed upon job loss.
    Keywords: Fertility, Unemployment, Plant closings, Human capital
    JEL: J13 J64 J65 J24
    Date: 2008–02
  4. By: Paul Shaffer
    Abstract: Three main changes in thinking about poverty have gained increasing currency over the past decade. First, the concept of poverty has broadened, with increasing attention to issues of vulnerability, inequality and human rights. Second, the causal structure has broadened to include causal variables, such as social, political, cultural, coercive and environmental capital. Third, the causal structure has deepened to focus on flows of individuals into and out of poverty, rather than on changes in the stock of poverty, and on strategies of social protection versus poverty reduction. The paper reviews these changes and their implications for globalisation and policy.
    Keywords: globalisation, poverty, vulnerability, inequality, poverty reduction strategies; social protection
    JEL: I32 O10 O15 O19
    Date: 2008–02
  5. By: Patrick MOYES (GREThA)
    Abstract: This paper gives an overview of the way the issue of poverty measurement is typically addressed in economics. After having briefly defined what is meant by poverty in economics, I examine successively the unidimensional approach to poverty based on the income or expenses, and the multidimensional approach, which introduces non-monetary attributes in addition to income. Particular emphasis is placed on those properties of the poverty measures, that are deemed reasonable, and on their implications for the structure of the corresponding indices. I also insist on the dominance approach, which allows one to take into account a large range of points of views concerning the way poverty should be assessed.
    Keywords: Poverty, Indices, Stochastic dominance
    JEL: D30 D63 I32
    Date: 2008
  6. By: Olympia Bover (Banco de España)
    Abstract: We study the link between culturally inherited household structure and wealth distribution in international comparisons using household data for the US and Spain (the SCF and the EFF). We estimate counterfactual US distributions relying on the Spanish household structure. Our results show that differences in household structure account for most of the differences in the lower part of the distribution between the two countries, but mask even larger differences in the upper part of the distribution. Imposing the Spanish household structure to the US wealth distribution has little effect on summary measures of inequality. However, this is the net result of reduced differences at the bottom and increased differences at the top. So there is distinct additional information in considering the whole distribution. We also report some evidence of an association between these wealth distribution differences and wealth composition. Finally, we present results for the within-group differences between the two countries using quantile regressions and find a reversing pattern by age.
    Keywords: Household structure, wealth distribution, international comparisons
    JEL: D31
    Date: 2008–02
  7. By: Tom Buchmueller (University of Michigan, National Bureau of Economic Research); Michel Grignon (Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, Department of Economics, McMaster University); Florence Jusot (Institut de Recherche et de Documentation en Economie de la Santé (IRDES), Paris, France)
    Abstract: This study uses aggregate panel data on 96 French départements for the period from 1982 to 2002 to investigate the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and mortality, controlling for local area and time fixed effects. Consistent with research using data from other countries, we find that increases in the local unemployment rates are associated with significant reductions in mortality. Models of mortality by source indicate that the negative relationship between unemployment and mortality is strongest for deaths due to cardiovascular disease and accidents. A finding that mortality among the elderly fluctuates with the unemployment rate suggests the possible importance of externalities associated with economic upturns.
    Keywords: unemployment, macroeconomic conditions, mortality, health
    JEL: E32 I12 J2
    Date: 2007
  8. By: Florence Jusot (Institut de Recherche et de Documentation en Economie de la Santé (IRDES), Paris, France); Michel Grignon (Departments of Economics and Health, Aging, & Society, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster Universitym Associate Researcher, IRDES, France); Paul Dourgnon (Institut de Recherche et de Documentation en Economie de la Santé (IRDES), Paris, France)
    Abstract: We study the psychosocial determinants of health, and their impact on social inequalities in health in France. We use a unique general population survey to assess the respective impact on self-assessed health status of subjective perceptions of social capital controlling for standard sociodemographic factors (occupation, income, education, age and gender). The survey is unique for two reasons: First, we use a variety of measures to describe self-perceived social capital (trust and civic engagement, social support, sense of control, and self-esteem). Second, we can link these measures of social capital to a wealth of descriptors of health status and behaviours. We find empirical support for the link between the subjective perception of social capital and health. Sense of control at work is the most important determinant of health status. Other important ones are civic engagement and social support. To a lesser extent, sense of being lower in the social hierarchy is associated with poorer health status. On the contrary, relative deprivation does not affect health in our survey. Since access to social capital is not equally distributed in the population, these findings suggest that psychosocial factors can explain a substantial part of social inequalities in health in France.
    Keywords: social capital, social support, relative deprivation, sense of control, social health inequalities
    Date: 2007

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