nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒08‒08
thirteen papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. The 60s Turnaround as a Test on the Causal Relationship between Sociability and Happiness By Leonardo Becchetti; Elena Giachin Ricca; Alessandra Pelloni
  2. Does Relative Income Matter? : Are the Critics Right? By Richard Layard; Guy Mayraz; Stephen Nickell
  3. Population and Health Policies By T. Paul Schultz
  4. Television Viewing, Satisfaction and Happiness: Facts and Fiction By Marco Gui; Luca Stanca
  5. Constructing Female Subject: Narratives on Family and Life Security among the Urban Poor in Turkey By Murakami, Kaoru
  6. Valuing Public Goods Using Happiness Data: The Case of Air Quality By Arik Levinson
  7. Pro-Poor Progress in Education in Developing Countries? By Kenneth Hartgen; Stephan Klasen; Mark Misselhorn
  8. New Measures of Gender Inequality: The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)and its Subindices By Boris Branisa; Stephan Klasen; Maria Ziegler
  9. Pro-Poor Growth Using Non-Income Indicators: An Empirical Illustration for Colombia By Adriana Cardozo; Melanie Grosse
  10. A Human Development Index by Internal Migrational Status By Kenneth Harttgen; Stephan Klasen
  11. Inequality in Human Development: An empirical assessment of thirty-two countries By Michael Grimm; Kenneth Harttgen; Stephan Klasen; Mark Misselhorn; Teresa Munzi; Timothy Smeeding
  12. Revisiting the Regional Growth Convergence Debate in Colombia Using Income Indicators By Boris Branisa; Adriana Cardozo
  13. Regional Growth Convergence in Colombia Using Social Indicators By Boris Branisa; Adriana Cardozo

  1. By: Leonardo Becchetti; Elena Giachin Ricca; Alessandra Pelloni
    Abstract: The nexus between social leisure and life satisfaction is riddled with endogeneity problems. In investigating the causal relationship going from the first to the second variable we start from considering that retirement is an event after which the time investable in (the outside job) relational life increases. We instrument social leisure with the probability of retirement of the three and four years younger cohorts. With such approach we document that social leisure has a positive and significant effect on life satisfaction. Our findings shed some light on the age-happiness pattern. Policy implications are also discussed.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction, relational goods, social capital
    JEL: I30 D61 A11 A13
    Date: 2009
  2. By: Richard Layard; Guy Mayraz; Stephen Nickell
    Abstract: Do other peoples¿ incomes reduce the happiness which people in advanced countries experience from any given income? And does this help to explain why in the U.S., Germany and some other advanced countries, happiness has been constant for many decades? The answer to both questions is ¿Yes¿. We provide 4 main pieces of evidence. 1) In the U.S. General Survey (repeated samples since 1972) comparator income has a negative effect on happiness equal in magnitude to the positive effect of own income. 2) In the West German Socio-Economic Panel since 1984 the same is true but with life satisfaction as the dependant variable. We also use the Panel to compare the effect of income comparisons and of adaptation as factors explaining the stable level of life-satisfaction: income comparisons emerge as much the more important. 3) When in our U.S. analysis we introduce ¿perceived¿ relative income as a potential explanatory variable, its effect is as large as the effect of actual relative income ¿ further supporting the view that comparisons matter. 4) Finally, for a panel of European countries since 1973 we estimate the effect of average income upon average lifesatisfaction, splitting income into two components: trend and cycle. The effect of trend income is small and illdefined. Our conclusions relate to time series and to advanced countries only. They differ from those drawn in recent studies by Deaton and Stevenson/Wolfers, but those studies are largely cross-sectional and mostly include non-advanced as well as advanced countries.
    Keywords: Easterlin Paradox, happiness, relative income, growth
    JEL: D31 D90 E01 H00 I31 O15
    Date: 2009
  3. By: T. Paul Schultz (Yale University)
    Abstract: The literature evaluating population and health policies is in flux, with many disciplines exploring biological and behavioral linkages from fetal development to chronic disease, disability, and late life mortality. The focus here is on research methods, findings, and questions that economists can clarify regarding the causal relationships between economic development, health outcomes, and reproductive behavior, which operate in many directions. The connection between conditions under which people live and their expected life span and health status refer to “health production functions”. The relationships between an individual’s stock of health and productivity, well being, and life span encompasses the “returns to health human capital”. The control of reproduction improves the well being of women, the economic opportunities of her offspring, and slows population growth. Evaluation of policy interventions is more than a question of technological efficiency, but also involves the behavioral responsiveness of individuals, families, social networks, and communities.
    Keywords: Health, Fertility and Family Planning, Biology of Health Human Capital, Economic Development
    JEL: D13 I18 O12
    Date: 2009–07
  4. By: Marco Gui; Luca Stanca
    Abstract: Despite the increasing consumption of new media, watching television remains the most important leisure activity worldwide. Research on audience reactions has demostrated that there are major contradictions between television consumption and the satisfaction obtained from this activity. Similar findings have also emerged in the relationship between TV consumption and overall well-being. This paper argues that television viewing can provide a major example where consumption choices do not maximize satisfaction. We review the evidence on the welfare effects of TV consumption choices, focusing on two complementary dimensions: consumption satisfaction and overall well-being Within each of these two dimensions, we consider both absolute and relative over-consumption, referring to quantity and content of television viewing, respectively. We find that research in different social sciences provides evidence of overconsumption in television viewing. The relevance of these findings for consumption of new media is discussed in the conclusions.
    Keywords: satisfaction, rationality, media consumption, television
    JEL: D12 D91 I31 J22
    Date: 2009–07
  5. By: Murakami, Kaoru
    Abstract: This paper examines people’s everyday acts, decisions, and narratives about livelihood and poverty. By doing so, it elucidates the way that family norms produce these acts, decisions, and narratives, and how female subjects are constructed as the result of the effects of family norms, focusing on norms of sexual honor. It shows that people’s sense of belonging is deeply grounded on kinship and it does not just disappear, even if monetary exchange declines and/or conjugal love is idealized. In fact, the value of sexual honor seems to be embedded within the concept of love. Agreeing with the current argument for the necessity of reorganizing the social security system based on citizenship, in order to respond to the changing nature of poverty, this paper argues nonetheless that it would be misleading to suppose that these formal legal institutions would directly shape the citizen subject.
    Keywords: Poverty, Sense of belonging, Kinship, Female subject, Turkey, Family, Women
    Date: 2009–03
  6. By: Arik Levinson (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)
    Abstract: This paper describes and implements a method for estimating the average marginal value of a time-varying local public good: air quality. It uses the General Social Survey (GSS), which asks thousands of people in various U.S. locations how happy they are, along with other demographic and attitude questions. These data are matched with the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality System (AQS) to find the level of pollution in those locations on the dates the survey questions were asked. People with higher incomes in any given year and location report higher levels of happiness, and people interviewed on days when air pollution was worse than the local seasonal average report lower levels of happiness. Combining these two concepts, I derive the average marginal rate of substitution between income and air quality – a compensating variation for air pollution. Classification-JEL Codes: Q51, Q53, H41
    Keywords: willingness to pay, stated well-being, pollution, compensating variation
    Date: 2009–07–09
  7. By: Kenneth Hartgen (University of Göttingen); Stephan Klasen (University of Göttingen); Mark Misselhorn (University of Göttingen)
    Abstract: Spurred by international commitments and expanded funding at the national and international level, attendance in education and associated years of schooling have expanded substantially in developing countries in recent years. But has this expansion in enrolments reduced existing inequalities in educational access and achievements? This paper analyzes differences in improvements in the access to the education system and in educational outcomes across the welfare distribution between and within countries, and also by gender and regions for a sample of 37 developing countries using Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). For the analysis, the toolbox of pro-poor growth analysis is applied to several educational indicators. We find drastic inequalities in educational attendance across the income distribution. Interestingly, inequalities in attendance declines with rising average attendance, while inequality in completion rates or schooling years increases with rising completion rates or schooling years. We find great heterogeneity in the distribution of progress of education, with very little pro-poor progress in educational achievement indicators. Also, progress appears to be less pro-poor in countries with low initial educational achievement and high overall educational progress. We find no correlation between pro-poor progress and free education policies or initial inequality in education. At the regional level, educational progress was generally more pro-poor in Asia and Latin America, while in Africa the experience is very heterogeneous. While gender inequality has decreased slightly, large differences by region tend to persist over time.
    Keywords: education; human capital; inequality; pro-poor growth
    JEL: I20 I29 I31 I32
    Date: 2009–07–15
  8. By: Boris Branisa (University of Göttingen); Stephan Klasen (University of Göttingen); Maria Ziegler (University of Göttingen)
    Abstract: In this paper we construct the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) and its five subindices Family code, Civil liberties, Physical integrity, Son Preference and Ownership rights using variables of the OECD Gender, Institutions and Development database. Instead of measuring gender inequalities in education, health, economic or political participation, these new indices allow a new perspective on gender issues in developing countries. The SIGI and the subindices measure long-lasting social institutions which are mirrored by societal practices and legal norms that might produce gender inequalities. The subindices measure each one dimension of the concept and the SIGI combines the subindices into a multidimensional index of deprivation of women. Methodologically, the SIGI is inspired by the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke poverty measures. It offers a new way of aggregating gender inequality in several dimensions, penalizing high inequality in each dimension and allowing only for partial compensation between dimensions. The SIGI and the subindices are useful tools to identify countries and dimensions of social institutions that deserve attention. Empirical results confirm that the SIGI provides additional information to that of other well-known gender-related indices.
    Keywords: SIGI; Composite index; Gender inequality; Social institutions; OECD-GID database
    JEL: D63 I39 J16
    Date: 2009–07–29
  9. By: Adriana Cardozo (University of Göttingen); Melanie Grosse (University of Göttingen)
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyze how the distribution of selected non-income welfare indicators changed between 1997 and 2003 in Colombia. We use multidimensional propoor growth measurement techniques and create indices for assets, health, education, and subjective welfare using two alternative weighing techniques: polychoric principal components and normatively selected weights. Results show that while income and expenditures fluctuated according to economic growth, reflecting the effects of the 1999 economic crisis, non-income indicators had minor changes. While income and expenditures decreased for all income percentiles, and relatively more for the richest, the non-income dimensions stagnated and remained in 2003 as unequally distributed as in 1997.
    Keywords: Pro-Poor Growth; Inequality; Welfare Measurement; Multidimensionality of Poverty; Latin America; Colombia
    JEL: D30 I30 O10 O12
    Date: 2009–07–15
  10. By: Kenneth Harttgen; Stephan Klasen
    Abstract: Migration continues to be a very important income diversi¯cation strategy, es- pecially for poor populations in developing countries. However, while there has been much analysis on the economic consequences of migration for migrants and the receiving regions, whether internal migration improves or deteriorates human development is not easy to determine. This papers applies a recently de- velopment analytical framework that allows to calculate the HDI for subgroups of a population. We use this approach to calculate the HDI by internal migra- tional status to assess the di®erences between the levels of human development of internal migrants compared to non-migrants, and also across countries as well as by urban and rural areas. An empirical illustration for a sample of 16 low and middle income countries shows that, overall, internal migrants slightly achieve a higher level of human development than non-migrants. The results further show that di®erences in income between migrants and non-migrants are generally higher than di®erences in education and life-expectancy. Disag- gregating the analysis by urban and rural areas reveals that urban internal migrants are better o® than urban non-migrants and rural migrants are better o® than rural non-migrants.
    Keywords: Human Development; Migration Income Inequality; Differential Mortality; Inequality in Education
    Date: 2009–07–15
  11. By: Michael Grimm (Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands); Kenneth Harttgen (Göttingen University, Germany); Stephan Klasen (Göttingen University, Germany); Mark Misselhorn (Göttingen University, Germany); Teresa Munzi (Luxembourg Income Study, Luxembourg); Timothy Smeeding (Luxembourg Income Study, Luxembourg)
    Abstract: One of the most frequent critiques of the HDI is that it does not take into account inequality within countries in its three dimensions. In this paper, we apply a simple approach to compute the three components and the overall HDI for quintiles of the income distribution. This allows comparison of the level in human development of the poor with the level of the non-poor within countries, but also across countries. This is an application of the method presented in Grimm et al. (2008) to a sample of 21 low and middle income countries and 11 industrialized countries. In particular the inclusion of the industrialized countries, which were not included in the previous work, implies to deal with a number of additional challenges, which we outline in this paper. Our results show that inequality in human development within countries is high, both in developed and industrialized countries. In fact, the HDI of the lowest quintiles in industrialized countries is often below the HDI of the richest quintile in many middle income countries. We also find, however, a strong overall negative correlation between the level of human development and inequality in human development.
    Keywords: Human Development; Income Inequality; Differential Mortality; Inequality in Education
    Date: 2009–07–15
  12. By: Boris Branisa (University of Goettingen / Germany); Adriana Cardozo (University of Goettingen / Germany)
    Abstract: This paper investigates growth convergence across Colombian departments during the period of 1975 to 2000, following both the regression and the distributional approaches suggested in the literature, and using two income measures computed by Centro de Estudios Ganaderos (CEGA).We also discuss issues related to data provided by Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadısticas (DANE) used by previous convergence studies. Our results show no evidence supporting convergence using per capita gross departmental product, but rather persistence in the distribution. Using per capita gross household disposable income, we find convergence, but only at a low speed, close to one percent per year. Furthermore, we find no evidence of the existence of different steady states for the two variables considered.
    Keywords: Colombia, regional growth convergence, growth regression, kernel density estimators
    JEL: C11 O40 O54
    Date: 2009–07–29
  13. By: Boris Branisa (University of Goettingen / Germany); Adriana Cardozo (University of Goettingen / Germany)
    Abstract: This paper investigates convergence in social indicators among Colombian departments from 1973 to 2005. We use census data and apply both the regression approach and the distributional approach (univariate and bivariate kernel density estimators). Using literacy rate as a proxy for education, we find convergence between 1973 and 2005, but persistence in the distribution between 1975 and 2000, when we use the infant survival rate and life expectancy at birth as proxies for health. Additionally, using data from Demographic and Health Surveys, we find convergence in the rate of children that are well-nourished between 1995 and 2005.
    Keywords: Colombia, regional convergence, distribution dynamics, social indicators, kernel density estimators
    JEL: I31 O18 O54 R11
    Date: 2009–07–29

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