nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒05‒30
eight papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Are Happier People Better Citizens? By Cahit Guven
  2. Effect of Mobiles on Socio-economic Life of Urban Poor By Ankur Sarin
  3. Household welfare and natural resource management around national parks in Zambia By Bandyopadhyay, Sushenjit; Tembo, Gelson
  4. Catching the habit: a study of inequality of opportunity in smoking-related mortality By Balia, S; Jones, A.M
  5. Investigating Patient Outcome Measures in Mental Health By Rowena Jacobs
  6. The impact of drought on household vulnerability: The case of rural Malawi By Makoka, Donald
  7. Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India By Banerjee, Abhijit; Duflo, Esther; Ghatak, Maitreesh; Lafortune, Jeanne
  8. Child Care Subsidies and Childhood Obesity By Chris M. Herbst; Erdal Tekin

  1. By: Cahit Guven
    Abstract: This paper presents evidence on causal influence of happiness on social capital and trust using German Socio-Economic Panel. Exploiting the unexplained cross-sectional variation in individual happiness (residuals) in 1984 to eliminate the endogeneity problem, the paper nds that happier people trust others more, and importantly, help create more social capital. Specifically, they have a higher desire to vote, perform more volunteer work, and more frequently participate in public activities. They also have a higher respect for law and order, hold more association memberships, are more attached to their neighborhood, and extend more help to others. Residual happiness appears to be an indicator of optimism, and has an inverse U-shaped relationship with social capital measures. The findings also suggest that the relationship between happiness and social capital strengthened in the world in the last decade.
    Keywords: happiness, trust, social capital, optimism.
    JEL: Z13
  2. By: Ankur Sarin
    Abstract: Using a survey of 1774 users and non-users in 84 slums in three metropolitan cities (Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata), we try to understand the impact of mobiles on their social and economic lives. Urban slum dwellers spend significant amounts on communications, both for a first time acquisition of handset and SIM (nearly 40% of the average household earnings per month), as well as on going expenditure. However, a majority of respondents believe that the use of mobiles has led to an improvement in their economic situation and that these benefits are greater than ownership and usage costs. Mobile also appears to change how slum residents interact with each other. Despite reducing face-to-face interactions, mobile usage is associated with stronger social relationships. In comparing users and non-users, we find differences between users and non-users in terms of income, education and other social characteristics. We also find evidence of hierarchies within households, with women far more likely than men to be only infrequent mobile users or not to have access at all. While cost of a handset is the primary barrier to owning a mobile, non-owners report difficulty in using a mobile, clarity of charges for call-plans and information dissemination as other barriers to ownership.[W.P. No. 2009-02-05]
    Keywords: innovations; communication technologies; social impacts; slum; urban India; Research Design; Sample Design; Self-Employed; Regular Wage Activities; household disparities; Mobiles; cell phones; SIM; Productive Purposes; economic activities
    Date: 2009
  3. By: Bandyopadhyay, Sushenjit; Tembo, Gelson
    Abstract: Game management areas in Zambia aim to combine nature conservation with economic empowerment of rural households. By looking at households inside and outside game management areas, this study advances the knowledge of the impact of community based natural resource management on household welfare. The paper focuses on the economic welfare of households living inside game management areas. It tries to answer the question: Do the households in game management areas enjoy higher levels of welfare relative to the conditions they would have been in had the area not been designated as a game management area? Within the game management area, the paper tries to determine the factors that influence household participation in natural resource management, and whether the participating households get any extra benefits. Also of interest is whether such benefits of living in a game management area, and, once in such an area, those of participating accrue more to the poorer segments of the communities. The study finds that the gains from living in a game management area and from active participation in natural resource management are large but unevenly distributed. Only game management areas near Kasanka, Lavushi, Isangano, and South Luangwa national parks in the sample show significant benefits to general and participating households. And in those areas, the poor do not seem to gain even when they participate actively. More even distribution of gains from game management areas across households near different park systems and across the poor and the non-poor should be a continuing goal of national policy makers.
    Keywords: Housing&Human Habitats,Access to Finance,Small Area Estimation Poverty Mapping,Poverty Lines,Community Development and Empowerment
    Date: 2009–05–01
  4. By: Balia, S; Jones, A.M
    Abstract: This paper investigates inequality in smoking-related mortality risk, focusing on the intergenerational transmission of smoking. We estimate a latent factor model for smoking initiation, cessation and mortality risk using the British Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS). The empirical analysis includes counterfactual simulations. The Gini coffcient for inequality in overall mortality risk, Sen's welfare index and generalised Lorenz curves are computed for the baseline model and for counterfactual scenarios that compare individual types that di®er in their circumstances and effort. Results confirm a clear socioeconomic gradient in smoking initiation and cessation as well as for mortality. Furthermore, we find that parental smoking behaviour plays an important role in smoking and indirectly affects mortality: it lowers the age at starting by about 2 years, increases smoking duration by about 12 years and lowers median lifespan by about 5 years. There is a large difference between current and never smokers in their median lifespan, which is exacerbated by parental smoking. Inequality in smoking-related mortality decreases if individuals adopt the best level of effort (not smoking) or, alternatively, if circumstances are favourable (parents are non-smokers). The health gain from not smoking (not attributable to parental smoking behaviour) is about 13 per cent in terms of mean survival probability and 5 per cent in terms of median predicted lifespan, a net gain of 3.4 years.
    Keywords: smoking; mortality; inequality of opportunity; duration analysis; latent factors
    JEL: I1 C10 C41
    Date: 2009–05
  5. By: Rowena Jacobs (Centre for Health Economics, University of York, UK)
    Abstract: This report examines the feasibility of incorporating patient outcomes in mental health into a productivity measure. It examines which outcome measures are most commonly used in mental health, the practical issues about collecting these outcome measures, whether they can be converted into a generic measure, whether there is a time series of data available, and whether the data exists to examine changes in the mix of treatments over time. The criteria that were assumed to be important for an outcome measure to be included in a productivity index, were that it should have wide coverage, should be routinely collected, could readily be linked to activity data, could potentially be converted to a generic outcome measure, and would be available as a time-series. The report focuses predominantly on mental health outcomes within the working age population. Literature searches on outcome measurement in mental health covered numerous databases and retrieved over 1500 records. Around 170 full papers were obtained.
    Date: 2009–05
  6. By: Makoka, Donald
    Abstract: Vulnerability to poverty in Malawi is highly associated with risk. Households face multiple shocks, most of which threaten their livelihoods and impact negatively on their welfare. Among the important risks that rural households face is drought, which is exacerbated by environmental change. This study analyzes the impact of drought on household’s vulnerability using a two-period panel dataset of 259 rural households in Malawi. In the framework of vulnerability as expected poverty, the study employs the methodology proposed by Christiaensen and Subbarao (2004). The results show that recurrent drought makes households more vulnerable to the extent that households that were affected by drought in both periods were twice as vulnerable as those who experienced drought in only one period. Policies that are aimed at building poor households’ resilience to recurrent drought hold more promise of enabling the households cope with this livelihood-threatening hazard.
    Keywords: Drought; vulnerability; poverty; rural Malawi
    JEL: B21
    Date: 2008–07–05
  7. By: Banerjee, Abhijit; Duflo, Esther; Ghatak, Maitreesh; Lafortune, Jeanne
    Abstract: This paper studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economic attributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. We use a unique data set on individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements in a major newspaper, the responses they received, how they ranked them, and the eventual matches. We estimate the preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes. We then compute a set of stable matches, which we compare to the actual matches that we observe in the data. We find the stable matches to be quite similar to the actual matches, suggesting a relatively frictionless marriage market. One of our key empirical findings is that there is a very strong preference for within-caste marriage. However, because both sides of the market share this preference and because the groups are fairly homogeneous in terms of the distribution of other attributes, in equilibrium, the cost of wanting to marry within-caste is low. This allows caste to remain a persistent feature of the Indian marriage market.
    Keywords: caste; Gale-Shapley Algorithm; marriage markets
    JEL: D10 J12 O12
    Date: 2009–05
  8. By: Chris M. Herbst; Erdal Tekin
    Abstract: Child care subsidies play a critical role in facilitating the transition of disadvantaged mothers from welfare to work. However, little is known about the influence of these policies on children’s health and well-being. In this paper, we study the impact of subsidy receipt on low-income children’s weight outcomes in the fall and spring of kindergarten. The goals of our empirical analysis are twofold. We first utilize standard OLS and fixed effects methods to explore body mass index as well as measures of overweight and obesity. We then turn to quantile regression to address the possibility that subsidy receipt has heterogeneous effects on children’s weight at different points in the BMI distribution. Results suggest that subsidy receipt is associated with increases in BMI and a greater likelihood of being overweight and obese. We also find substantial variation in subsidy effects across the BMI distribution. In particular, child care subsidies have no effect on BMI at the lower end of the distribution, inconsistent effects in the middle of the distribution, and large effects at the top of the distribution. Our results point to the use of non-parental child care, particularly centerbased services, as the key mechanism through which subsidies influence children’s weight outcomes.
    JEL: I12 I18 J13
    Date: 2009–05

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