nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2008‒12‒01
fifteen papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Weber, Work Ethic And Well-Being By André van Hoorn; Robbert Maseland
  2. Unwed Mothers‘ Private Safety Nets and Children‘s Socioemotional Wellbeing By Rebecca M. Ryan; Ariel Kalil; Lindsey J. Leininger
  3. Paternal Incarceration and Children’s Aggressive Behaviors: Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study By Christopher Wildeman
  4. Parental Incarceration and Child Wellbeing: Implications for Urban Families By Amanda Geller; Irwin Garfinkel; Carey Cooper; Ronald Mincy
  5. FAMILY STRUCTURE AND CHILD HEALTH OUTCOMES IN FRAGILE FAMILIES By Sharon Bzostek; Audrey Beck
  6. Effects of Paternal Presence and Family Stability on Child Cognitive Performance By Terry-Ann Craigie
  7. Relationship Transitions and Maternal Parenting By Audrey N. Beck; Carey E. Cooper; Sara S. McLanahan; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  8. The Relative Effects of Family Instability and Mother/Partner Conflict on Children’s Externalizing Behavior By Paula Fomby; Cynthia Osborne
  9. Partnership Instability and Child Wellbeing during the Transition to Elementary School By Carey E. Cooper; Cynthia A. Osborne; Audrey N. Beck; Sara S. McLanahan
  10. The Effects of Maternal Employment on Childhood Obesity in the United States By Jackie Araneo
  11. IMPLICATIONS OF VIOLENT AND CONTROLLING UNIONS FOR MOTHERS’ MENTAL HEALTH AND LEAVING By Kate S. Adkins; Claire M. Kamp Dush
  12. National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life By Alan B. Krueger; Daniel Kahneman; David Schkade; Norbert Schwarz; Arthur A. Stone
  13. Deconstructing the Hedonic Treadmill By Perez Truglia, Ricardo; Bottan, Luis
  14. Self-Esteem, Moral Capital, and Wrongdoing By Ernesto Dal Bó; Marko Terviö
  15. Cumulative Effects of Job Characteristics on Health By Jason M. Fletcher; Jody L. Sindelar; Shintaro Yamaguchi

  1. By: André van Hoorn (Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of Economics); Robbert Maseland (Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of Political Science. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne)
    Abstract: Following Max Weber’s seminal work, much recent work has turned to religious values to explain socio-economic developments. We present a test of Weber’s original thesis that addresses fundamental limitations of previous research. A novel method that builds on happiness research is used to measure a religious work ethic in terms of the psychic costs of unemployment. The resulting ‘experienced preferences’ provide strong support for Weber’s original thesis: for both Protestants and Protestant countries, not having a job has substantially larger negative happiness effects than for other religious denominations. This provides a Weber-type channel relating religion to socio-economic outcomes.
    Keywords: values, religion, happiness, preferences, outcomes, culture
    JEL: J20 J60 P50 Z12
    Date: 2008–10–28
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:gra:paoner:08/07&r=hap
  2. By: Rebecca M. Ryan (University of Chicago); Ariel Kalil (University of Chicago); Lindsey J. Leininger (University of Chicago)
    Abstract: Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 1,162) and the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (N = 1,308), we estimate associations between material and instrumental support available to unwed, low-income mothers and young children‘s socioemotional wellbeing. In multivariate OLS models, we find mothers‘ available support is negatively associated with children‘s behavior problems and positively associated with prosocial behavior in both datasets; associations between available support and children‘s internalizing and prosocial behaviors attenuate but remain robust in residualized change models. Overall, results support the hypothesis that the availability of a private safety net is positively associated with children‘s socioemotional adjustment.
    Date: 2008–03
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1017&r=hap
  3. By: Christopher Wildeman (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Incarceration diminishes the life-chances of adults, but little is known about how parental incarceration affects children. Effects on early childhood aggressive behaviors are especially significant because of connections between early childhood aggression and future criminality. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of children born in urban centers at the close of the 20th century, this paper considers the effects of paternal incarceration on children’s aggressive behaviors at age 5. Results show strong effects of paternal incarceration on aggressive behaviors for boys but not girls. Results also show that effects are concentrated among boys living with a father at the time of his incarceration. The use of various modeling strategies and alternate dependent and independent variables demonstrates the robustness of the finding – and shows that effects are largest on physically aggressive acts, precisely the acts most strongly connected with future criminal activity. By increasing boy’s aggression, paternal incarceration may promote the intergenerational transmission of crime and incarceration. In so doing, high levels of paternal incarceration could not only compromise public safety but also provide the groundwork for a permanently disadvantaged class for whom contact with the criminal justice system is normal.
    Date: 2008–01
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1014&r=hap
  4. By: Amanda Geller; Irwin Garfinkel; Carey Cooper; Ronald Mincy
    Abstract: Using a population-based, longitudinal family survey (N=4,898), we identify a set of economic, residential, and developmental risks particular to the children of incarcerated parents. We use parental reports of incarceration history, demographic background, and a rich set of child and family outcomes, in a series of multivariate regression models. Children of incarerated parents face more economic and residential stability than their counterparts. Children of incarcerated fathers also display more behavior problems, though other developmental differences are insignificant. Several family differences are magnified when both parents have been incarcerated. We find that incarceration identifies families facing severe and unique hardship. Given the prevalence of incarceration, this means a large population of children suffers unmet material needs, residential instability, and behavior problems. These risks may be best addressed by using the point of incarceration as an opportunity for intervention, and the administration of age-appropriate social services.
    Date: 2008–05
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1080&r=hap
  5. By: Sharon Bzostek (Princeton University); Audrey Beck (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Dramatic changes in family demography in the United States have led to increasing numbers of children living in “non-traditional” households. A large body of literature documents the association between living in a non-traditional family structure/familial instability and children’s cognitive and behavioral outcomes. In contrast, relatively little research has focused on the relationship between family structure and instability and children’s physical health outcomes, despite the fact that there is good theoretical reason to expect that family structure and instability might be associated with children’s physical health. The current study uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to assess whether family structure and familial instability are associated with a variety of children’s physical health outcomes. The paper pays particular attention to possible mediating mechanisms and utilizes longitudinal data to address potential problems of selection bias and reverse causality. The results suggest that children living with two married biological parents tend to fare better than children living in less traditional family structures across a variety of physical health outcomes, and that at least some portion of these relationships are likely the result of selection bias and/or reverse causality.
    Date: 2008–05
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1081&r=hap
  6. By: Terry-Ann Craigie (Michigan State University)
    Abstract: This study uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) to examine the effects of a father?s presence on the cognitive performance of his pre-school aged child. Cognitive performance is measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), a well-known indicator of cognitive ability and academic readiness for young children. Like previous studies, the richness of the data is exploited by including numerous covariates in the OLS regression model. In addition, the study also employs a Proxy Variable-OLS Solution to dealing with the problem of omitted variable bias. Subsequently, causal inferences can be made from the empirical findings. The study finds two distinct effects of paternal presence based on whether the child belongs to a stable versus disruptive family structure. The empirical results indicate that cognitive outcomes are statistically similar for children in stable single-parent and stable two-parent family households. However, disruptive family structures, characterized by a father?s partial presence in the home, are shown to have deleterious effects on cognitive performance compared to a stable single-parent family structure where the father has never even been present. One profound implication of these findings is the importance of family stability above family structure in producing positive child outcomes. Moreover, there is suggestive evidence that the effect of disruptive paternal presence is significantly larger for girls than for boys.
    Date: 2008–03
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1015&r=hap
  7. By: Audrey N. Beck (Princeton University); Carey E. Cooper (Princeton University); Sara S. McLanahan (Princeton University); Jeanne Brooks-Gunn (Columbia University)
    Abstract: Recent scholarship has begun to investigate the consequences of instability in the family over a period of time, as compared to examining family status at a particular point in time (Fomby & Cherlin, 2007; Osborne & McLanahan, 2007; Wu & Martinson, 1993; Wu & Thomson, 2001). This body of research has primarily focused on the implications of instability for children’s wellbeing, and has largely neglected how instability may shape children’s home environments, especially early parenting behaviors. The lack of research in this area is problematic because parenting has been found to be a key predictor of children’s ability to successfully transition into school (Brooks-Gunn & Markman, 2005; Hill, 2001). Additionally, while extensive attention has been given to divorce as a source of instability, we know much less about the consequences and nature of instability in nonmarital relationships. In fact, much of the existing literature does not consider cohabiting or noncoresidential relationships as a source of instability. These relationships are especially important not only because they have increased dramatically during recent decades but also because they are more common among disadvantaged families that are already at risk for poor child outcomes. In this paper we address three questions: 1) Are family structure transitions during a child’s first five years associated with parenting at age 5? 2) Does the type and timing of transitions matter? And 3) do the associations between transitions and parenting quality vary by family structure, or maternal education?
    Date: 2008–04
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1082&r=hap
  8. By: Paula Fomby (University of Colorado Denver); Cynthia Osborne (University of Texas, Austin)
    Abstract: A growing body of research has found support for the idea that children’s behavioral development and school performance may be influenced as much by multiple changes in family composition during childhood as by the quality and character of the families in which children reside at any given point (Cavanagh and Huston 2006; Cavanagh, Schiller, and Riegle-Crumb 2006; Fomby and Cherlin 2007; Heard 2007a; Heard 2007b; Heaton and Forste 2007; Osborne and McLanahan 2007; Wu 1996; Wu and Martinson 1993; Wu and Thomson 2001). Much of the research on instability has focused specifically on the effects for children of experiencing the repeated formation and dissolution of cohabiting and marital unions. Underlying the research on the effects of union instability is the concept that children and their parents or parent-figures form a functioning family system, and repeated disruptions to that system, caused by either the addition or departure of a parent’s partner or spouse, may lead to behaviors with potentially deleterious long-term consequences.
    Date: 2008–05
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1077&r=hap
  9. By: Carey E. Cooper (Princeton University); Cynthia A. Osborne (University of Texas at Austin); Audrey N. Beck (Princeton University); Sara S. McLanahan (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 2,957) are used to examine partnership instability and children’s wellbeing during the transition to elementary school. We find that coresidential transitions are related to externalizing, attention, and social problems. Mothers’ mental health and use of harsh parenting partially mediate the associations between coresidential transitions and child outcomes at age five. The impact of coresidential transitions on externalizing, attention, and social problems is stronger for boys than girls. Also, non-coresidential transitions predict externalizing and attention problems for White children but not for Hispanic children. Finally, the association between coresidential transitions and verbal ability is stronger for children with highly educated mothers than for children of less educated mothers.
    Date: 2008–05
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1078&r=hap
  10. By: Jackie Araneo
    Abstract: Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), reports that from 1971 to 2004, obesity rates have increased from 5% to 13.9% among two- to five-year-olds, from 4% to 18.8% among six- to eleven-year-olds, and from 6.1% to 17.4% among twelve- to nineteen-year-olds (CDC, 2007). Increases in childhood obesity have been especially pronounced among low-income children from racial and ethnic minority groups. This vast increase in the number of obese children is a major cause for alarm because of the many health problems associated with being overweight.
    Date: 2008–04
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1083&r=hap
  11. By: Kate S. Adkins (Ohio State University); Claire M. Kamp Dush (Ohio State University)
    Abstract: We used two waves of the Fragile Families Study (N = 2639) to examine links between control and violence with maternal mental health and relationship dissolution. Mothers in controlling-only or controlling and violent unions had more symptoms of depression and anxiety and greater odds of dissolution than mothers not experiencing violence or control. Over time, all mothers increased in depressive symptoms, but the magnitude of the increase in depressive symptoms was greatest for mothers in violent and controlling stable unions followed by those in controlling-only stable unions. Mothers dissolving violent and/or controlling unions also experienced increases depressive symptoms over time. Results indicate negative consequences for both mothers who remain in and leave violent and controlling unions.
    Date: 2008–06
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1084&r=hap
  12. By: Alan B. Krueger (Princeton University and NBER); Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University); David Schkade (University of California, San Diego); Norbert Schwarz (University of Michigan); Arthur A. Stone (Stony Brook University)
    Abstract: This monograph proposes a new approach for measuring features of society’s subjective well-being, based on time allocation and affective experience. We call this approach National Time Accounting (NTA). National Time Accounting is a set of methods for measuring, comparing and analyzing how people spend and experience their time -- across countries, over historical time, or between groups of people within a country at a given time. The approach is based on evaluated time use, or the flow of emotional experience during daily activities. After reviewing evidence on the validity of subjective well-being measures, we present and evaluate diary-based survey techniques designed to measure individuals’ emotional experiences and time use. We illustrate NTA with: (1) a new cross-sectional survey on time use and emotional experience for a representative sample of 4,000 Americans; (2) historical data on the amount of time devoted to various activities in the United States since 1965; and (3) a comparison of time use and wellbeing in the United States and France. In our applications, we focus mainly on the Uindex, a measure of the percentage of time that people spend in an unpleasant state, defined as an instance in which the most intense emotion is a negative one. The U-index helps to overcome some of the limitations of interpersonal comparisons of subjective well-being. National Time Accounting strikes us as a fertile area for future research because of advances in subjective measurement and because time use data are now regularly collected in many countries.
    Date: 2008–03
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:indrel:1061&r=hap
  13. By: Perez Truglia, Ricardo; Bottan, Luis
    Abstract: There is consent among psychologists and some economists that satisfaction from some events, like income and marriage, is adaptive. We propose a subtle but critical difference: happiness may itself be adaptive. We introduce a theoretical model to explain the emergence of adaptive stimuli. Then we test our hypotheses running dynamic happiness regressions based on panel data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, the British Household Panel Survey and the Swiss Household Panel. Surprisingly, the autoregressive component in the simplest models is positive and significant. We propose that the hedonic treadmill may be mixed with what we call the “scale treadmill”.
    Keywords: happiness; hedonic adaptation; dynamic panel.
    JEL: I31 C23 I00
    Date: 2008–06
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pra:mprapa:10268&r=hap
  14. By: Ernesto Dal Bó; Marko Terviö
    Abstract: In order to help understand adherence to moral principles and the force of intrinsic motivation, we present an infinite-horizon model where an individual receives random temptations (such as bribe offers) and must decide which to resist. Individual actions depend both on conscious intent and a type reflecting unconscious drives. Temptations yield consumption value, but keeping a good self-image (a high belief of being the type of person that resists) yields self-esteem. We identify conditions for individuals to build an introspective reputation for goodness ("moral capital") and for good actions to lead to a stronger disposition to do good. Bad actions destroy moral capital and lock-in further wrongdoing. Economic shocks that result in higher temptations have persistent effects on wrongdoing that fade only as new generations replace the shocked cohorts. Societies with the same moral fundamentals may display different wrongdoing rates depending on how much past luck has polarized the distribution of individual beliefs. The model illustrates how optimal deterrence may change under endogenous moral costs and how wrongdoing may be compounded as high temptation activities attract individuals with low moral capital.
    JEL: D83 K4 Z1
    Date: 2008–11
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14508&r=hap
  15. By: Jason M. Fletcher; Jody L. Sindelar; Shintaro Yamaguchi
    Abstract: We present what we believe are the best estimates of how job characteristics of physical demands and environmental conditions affect individual’s health. Five-year cumulative measures of these job characteristics are used to reflect findings in the physiologic literature that cumulative exposure is most relevant for the impact of hazards and stresses on health. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics we find that individuals who work in jobs with the ‘worst’ conditions experience declines in their health, although this effect varies by demographic group. For example, for non-white men, a one standard deviation increase in cumulative physical demands decreases health by an amount that offsets an increase of two years of schooling or four years of aging. Job characteristics are found more detrimental to the health of females and older workers. These results are robust to inclusion of occupation fixed effects, health early in life and lagged health.
    Keywords: Health, occupational characteristic
    JEL: I10 J28
    Date: 2008–11
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2008-05&r=hap

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