New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒03‒22
fifteen papers chosen by

  1. Health and Income: a Robust Comparison of Canada and the US By Jean-Yves Duclos; Damien Échevin
  2. Subjective well-being and basic needs: Evidence from rural Guatemala By Jorge Guardiola; Teresa Garcia-Muñoz
  3. The link between water access and subjective well-being: some methods and proposals. By Francisco Gonzalez-Gomez; Jorge Guardiola; Teresa Garcia-Muñoz
  4. Ageing, Health and Life Satisfaction of the Oldest Old: An Analysis for Germany By Gwozdz, Wencke; Sousa-Poza, Alfonso
  5. Autonomisation des femmes et bien-être social By Nanak Kakwani; Hyun H. Son
  6. Measuring Disparities in Health Status and in Access and Use of Health Care in OECD Countries By Michael de Looper; Gaetan Lafortune
  7. Adaption or social comparison? The effects of income on happiness By Luis Angeles
  8. Do children make us happier? By Luis Angeles
  9. Infrastructure, Women’s Time Allocation, and Economic Development By P R Agénor; M Agénor
  10. Do German Welfare-to-Work Programmes Reduce Welfare and Increase Work? By Martin Huber; Michael Lechner; Conny Wunsch; Thomas Walter
  11. Mode and Context Effects in Measuring Household Assets By Arthur van Soest; Arie Kapteyn
  12. Re-Constructing Childhood Health Histories By James P. Smith
  13. Do Child Tax Benefits Affect the Wellbeing of Children? Evidence from Canadian Child Benefit Expansions By Milligan, Kevin; Stabile, Mark
  14. Well-being of Migrant Children and Migrant Youth in Europe By Kenneth Harttgen; Stephan Klasen
  15. The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States By Edward L. Glaeser; Joshua D. Gottlieb

  1. By: Jean-Yves Duclos; Damien Échevin
    Abstract: This paper uses sequential stochastic dominance procedures to compare the joint distribution of health and income across space and time. It is the first application of which we are aware of methods to compare multidimensional distributions of income and health using procedures that are robust to aggregation techniques. The paper's approach is more general than comparisons of health gradients and does not require the estimation of health equivalent incomes. We illustrate the approach by contrasting Canada and the US using comparable data. Canada dominates the US over the lower bi-dimensional welfare distribution of health and income, though not generally in terms of the uni-dimensional distribution of health or income. The paper also finds that welfare for both Canadians and Americans has not unambiguously improved during the last decade over the joint distribution of income and health, in spite of the fact that the uni-dimensional distributions of income have clearly improved during that period.
    Keywords: Health inequality, self-reported health status, income distribution, stochastic dominance, social welfare
    JEL: I10 I32 I38 D63 D30 H51
    Date: 2009
  2. By: Jorge Guardiola (Department of Applied Economics, University of Granada.); Teresa Garcia-Muñoz (Department of Quantitative Methods fo Economics and Management, University of Granada.)
    Abstract: This paper deals with basic needs fulfillment interpreted in a subjective way. We develop a framework in which the basic needs of households in developing areas are valued from a subjective point of view. We estimate how certain indicators and assets influence basic needs perception. We compare income and perceived basic needs poverty measures, finding that they mismatch. We conclude that income-based approaches should be complemented with other indicators such as subjective satisfaction measures to understand development and measure poverty.
    Keywords: Subjective well-being, basic needs, poverty, Guatemala, Highlands.
    JEL: I31 I32 O13 O18
    Date: 2009–02–15
  3. By: Francisco Gonzalez-Gomez (Department of Applied Economics, University of Granada.); Jorge Guardiola (Department of Applied Economics, University of Granada.); Teresa Garcia-Muñoz (Department of Quantitative Methods fo Economics and Management, University of Granada.)
    Abstract: The study of happiness or subjective well-being has traditionally been studied within the disciplines of psychology or sociology. Although economics has contemplated happiness in research terms, it has only recently been studied in any depth. In this paper we offer several proposals in order to investigate the relationship between water access and happiness, suggesting some situations that would merit further research. Moreover, we have included some methodological notes in order to achieve this objective. This relationship can be useful in two ways. Firstly, it can favour the contemplation of water access as a human right. Secondly, it can serve as a framework for the decision-making process carried out by Governments and NGOs in developing countries.
    Date: 2009–02–12
  4. By: Gwozdz, Wencke (University of Hohenheim); Sousa-Poza, Alfonso (University of Hohenheim)
    Abstract: This analysis uses data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) and the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to assess the effect of ageing and health on the life satisfaction of the oldest old (defined as 75 and older). We observe a U-shaped relationship between age and levels of life satisfaction for individuals aged between 16 and approximately 65. Thereafter, life satisfaction declines rapidly and the lowest absolute levels of life satisfaction are recorded for the oldest old. This decline is primarily attributable to low levels of perceived health. Once cohort effects are also controlled for, life satisfaction remains relatively constant across the lifespan.
    Keywords: oldest old, health, life satisfaction
    JEL: I18 I19 J28
    Date: 2009–03
  5. By: Nanak Kakwani (International Poverty Centre); Hyun H. Son (International Poverty Centre)
    Keywords: Autonomisation des femmes et bien-être social
    Date: 2009–03
  6. By: Michael de Looper; Gaetan Lafortune
    Abstract: Most OECD countries have endorsed as major policy objectives the reduction of inequalities in health status and the principle of adequate or equal access to health care based on need. These policy objectives require an evidence-based approach to measure progress. This paper assesses the availability and comparability of selected indicators of inequality in health status and in health care access and use across OECD countries, focussing on disparities among socioeconomic groups. These indicators are illustrated using national or cross-national data sources to stratify populations by income, education or occupation level. In each case, people in lower socioeconomic groups tend to have a higher rate of disease, disability and death, use less preventive and specialist health services than expected on the basis of their need, and for certain goods and services may be required to pay a proportionately higher share of their income to do so.<BR>Les politiques de santé dans la plupart des pays de l’OCDE ont comme objectifs majeurs la réduction des inégalités en matière de santé et le respect du principe d’un accès adéquat ou égal aux soins basé sur les besoins. Des données robustes et fiables sont nécessaires pour mesurer l’atteinte de ces objectifs politiques. Ce document de travail évalue la disponibilité et la comparabilité de certains indicateurs de l’inégalité de l’état de santé et de l’accès et de l’utilisation des soins dans les pays de l’OCDE, en se concentrant sur les disparités selon les groupes socio-économiques. Ces indicateurs sont illustrés à partir de sources de données nationales ou internationales qui permettent de distinguer les populations par niveau de revenu, d’éducation et d’emploi. Dans tous les cas, les personnes appartenant à des groupes socio-économiques désavantagés ont tendance à avoir des taux de morbidité, d’incapacité et de mortalité plus élevés, à utiliser moins de services préventifs et de soins spécialisés que ce à quoi on pourrait s’attendre sur la base de leurs besoins, et à payer une plus large part de leur revenu pour se procurer certains biens et services de santé.
    JEL: I10 I18 J10
    Date: 2009–03–09
  7. By: Luis Angeles
    Abstract: Two mechanisms have attracted considerable attention from researchers studying the effects of income on happiness: adaptation and social comparison. In most empirical studies these two mechanisms have been considered separately. This paper contributes to the literature by jointly testing for the presence of adaptation and social comparison using UK data. Our results show that the data supports both adaptation and social comparison when we test them separately, but that only adaptation survives when we test them jointly. The result has important consequences for public policy and for our understanding of human motivation.
    Date: 2008–11
  8. By: Luis Angeles
    Abstract: We investigate the effects of having children at home on individual happiness. Contrary to much of the literature, we find effects that are positive, large and increasing in the number of children. These effects, however, are contingent on the individual's characteristics. Children make married people happier, but people who are separated, living as a couple or have never married and are not living as a couple are less happy with children. We also analyze the role of factors such as gender, age, income and education.
    Date: 2009–02
  9. By: P R Agénor; M Agénor
    Abstract: This paper develops a gender-based OLG model of endogenous growth to analyze the impact of infrastructure on women’s time allocation between market work, raising children, own health care, home production, and leisure. Gender bias occurs as a result of firms discriminating between men and women, and of mothers devoting relatively more time to rearing their sons. Women’s health status in adulthood, which affects productivity and wages, depends on their health status in childhood. A stagnation equilibrium and multiple development regimes are derived. An increase in productive government spending may shift the economy to a high-growth equilibrium, in a process involving changes in life expectancy, fertility, and a reallocation of women’s time.
    Date: 2009
  10. By: Martin Huber; Michael Lechner; Conny Wunsch; Thomas Walter
    Abstract: Many Western economies have reformed their welfare systems with the aim of activating welfare recipients by increasing welfare-to-work programmes and job search enforcement. We evaluate the three most important German welfare-to-work programmes implemented after a major reform in January 2005 ("Hartz IV"). Our analysis is based on a unique combination of large scale survey and administrative data that is unusually rich with respect to individual, household, agency level, and regional information. We use this richness to allow for a selection-on-observables approach when doing the econometric evaluation. We find that short-term training programmes on average increase their participants' employment perspectives and that all programmes induce further programme participation. We also show that there is considerable effect heterogeneity across different subgroups of participants that could be exploited to improve the allocation of welfare recipients to the specific programmes and thus increase overall programme effectiveness
    Keywords: Welfare-to-work policies, propensity score matching, programme evaluation, panel data, targeting
    JEL: J68
    Date: 2009–03
  11. By: Arthur van Soest; Arie Kapteyn
    Abstract: Differences in answers in Internet and traditional surveys can be due to selection, mode, or context effects. The authors exploit unique experimental data to analyze mode and context effects controlling for arbitrary selection. The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) surveys a random sample of the US 50+ population, with CAPI or CATI core interviews once every two years. In 2003 and 2005, random samples were drawn from HRS respondents in 2002 and 2004 willing and able to participate in an Internet interview. Comparing core and Internet survey answers of the same people, the authors analyze mode and context effects, controlling for selection. They focus on household assets, for which mode effects in Internet surveys have rarely been studied. They find some large differences between the first Internet survey and the other three surveys which they interpret as a context and question wording effect rather than a pure mode effect.
    JEL: C42 C81 C93
    Date: 2009–02
  12. By: James P. Smith
    Abstract: This paper provides evidence about the quality of retrospective childhood health histories given to respondents in the Health and Retirement Survey and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Even though information on early life health events is critical, there is legitimate skepticism about the ability of older respondents to remember specific health problems that they had as a child. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that this is too negative a view. Respondents appear to remember salient childhood events about themselves such as the illnesses they had as a child quite well. Moreover, these physical and psychological childhood health events are important correlates of adult health during middle age.
    JEL: I0 J0
    Date: 2009–02
  13. By: Milligan, Kevin; Stabile, Mark
    Abstract: A vast literature has examined the impact of family income on the health and development outcomes of children. One channel through which increased income may operate is an improvement in a family’s ability to provide food, shelter, clothing, books, and other expenditure-related inputs to a child’s development. In addition to this channel, many scholars have investigated the relationship between income and the psychological wellbeing of the family. By reducing stress and conflict, more income helps to foster an environment more conducive to healthy child development. In this paper, we exploit changes in child benefits in Canada to study these questions. Importantly, our approach allows us to make stronger causal inferences than has been possible with the existing, mostly correlational, evidence. Using variation in child benefits across province, time, and family type, we study outcomes spanning test scores, mental health, physical health, and deprivation measures. The findings suggest that child benefit programs in Canada had significant positive effects on test scores, as has been featured in the existing literature. However, we also find that several measures of both child and maternal mental health and well-being show marked improvement with higher child benefits. We find strong and interesting differences in the effects of benefits by sex of the child: benefits have stronger effects on educational outcomes and physical health for boys, and on mental health outcomes for girls. Our findings also provide some support for the hypothesis that income transfers operate through measures of family emotional well-being.
    Keywords: Child Tax Benefits, Income Transfers, Child Development, Standardized Tests, Mental Health
    JEL: I32 J13 J38
    Date: 2009–03–13
  14. By: Kenneth Harttgen (University of Göttingen / Germany); Stephan Klasen (University of Göttingen / Germany)
    Date: 2009–03–06
  15. By: Edward L. Glaeser; Joshua D. Gottlieb
    Abstract: Empirical research on cities starts with a spatial equilibrium condition: workers and firms are assumed to be indifferent across space. This condition implies that research on cities is different from research on countries, and that work on places within countries needs to consider population, income and housing prices simultaneously. Housing supply elasticity will determine whether urban success shows up in more people or higher incomes. Urban economists generally accept the existence of agglomeration economies, which exist when productivity rises with density, but estimating the magnitude of those economies is difficult. Some manufacturing firms cluster to reduce the costs of moving goods, but this force no longer appears to be important in driving urban success. Instead, modern cities are far more dependent on the role that density can play in speeding the flow of ideas. Finally, urban economics has some insights to offer related topics such as growth theory, national income accounts, public economics and housing prices.
    JEL: D0 D00 R0 R00
    Date: 2009–03

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