nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒08‒22
ten papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. In the Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Inequality Measures and the Demand for Redistribution By Kuhn, Andreas
  2. The Public Health Costs of Job Loss By Kuhn, Andreas; Lalive, Rafael; Zweimüller, Josef
  3. Marital Violence and Women's Employment and Property Status: Evidence from North Indian Villages By Bhattacharya, Manasi; Bedi, Arjun S.; Chhachhi, Amrita
  4. Maintaining Work: The Influence of Child Care Subsidies on Child Care-Related Work By Nicole D. Forry; Sandra L. Hofferth
  5. Intergenerational Relationships and Union Stability in Fragile Families By Robin S. Högnäs; Marcia J. Carlson
  6. Does pluralism in economics education make better educated, happier students? A qualitative analysis. By Andrew Mearman; Tim Wakeley; Gamila Shoib; Don J. Webber
  7. Does Leaving Welfare Improve Health? Evidence for Germany By Martin Huber; Michael Lechner; Conny Wunsch
  8. The Public Health Costs of Job Loss By Andreas Kuhn; Rafael Lalive; Josef Zweimüller
  9. Life Satisfaction By Arie Kapteyn; James P. Smith; Arthur Van Soest
  10. How universal is happiness? By Veenhoven, Ruut

  1. By: Kuhn, Andreas (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: This paper presents a simple conceptual framework intended for describing individuals' subjective evaluations of occupational wage inequality and their demand for redistribution. Most importantly, the framework explicitly allows for the distinction between individuals' perceptions and their normative beliefs. I illustrate the framework using Swiss survey data from the International Social Survey Program. While most individuals accept quite large wage differentials across occupations, they also prefer a lower level of overall wage inequality than what they perceive to exist. Consistent with previous evidence, the empirical analysis also shows that financial self-interest, social norms about distributive justice and perceptions of how wages are determined in reality all simultaneously influence the demand for redistribution. Finally, I show that subjective inequality measures and the demand for redistribution are substantially significant predictors of both individuals' support for government intervention and their party identification. This result provides indirect evidence on the presumed link between perceptions and beliefs on the one hand and political outcomes on the other hand.
    Keywords: subjective inequality measures, demand for redistribution, distributive justice, party identification, support for the welfare state
    JEL: D3 D63 H1
    Date: 2009–08
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4360&r=hap
  2. By: Kuhn, Andreas (University of Zurich); Lalive, Rafael (University of Lausanne); Zweimüller, Josef (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: We study the short-run effect of involuntary job loss on comprehensive measures of public health costs. We focus on job loss induced by plant closure, thereby addressing the reverse causality problem of deteriorating health leading to job loss as job displacements due to plant closure are unlikely caused by workers' health status, but potentially have important effects on individual workers' health and associated public health costs. Our empirical analysis is based on a rich data set from Austria providing comprehensive information on various types of health care costs and day-by-day work history at the individual level. Our central findings are: (i) overall expenditures on medical treatments (hospitalizations, drug prescriptions, doctor visits) are not strongly affected by job displacement; (ii) job loss increases expenditures for antidepressants and related drugs, as well as for hospitalizations due to mental health problems for men (but not for women); and (iii) sickness benefits strongly increase due to job loss.
    Keywords: social cost of unemployment, health, job loss, plant closure
    JEL: I12 I19 J28 J65
    Date: 2009–08
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4355&r=hap
  3. By: Bhattacharya, Manasi (affiliation not available); Bedi, Arjun S. (Institute of Social Studies); Chhachhi, Amrita (Institute of Social Studies)
    Abstract: Dominant development policy approaches recommend women's employment on the grounds that it facilitates their empowerment, which in turn is believed to be instrumental in enhancing women's well-being. However, empirical work on the relationship between women's employment status and their well-being as measured by freedom from marital violence yields an ambiguous picture. Motivated by this ambiguity, this paper draws on testimonies of men and women and data gathered from rural Uttar Pradesh, to examine the effect of women's employment and asset status as measured by their participation in paid work and their ownership of property, respectively, on spousal violence. Unlike the existing literature, we treat women's work status and violence as simultaneously determined and find that women's engagement in paid work and ownership of property, are associated with sharp reductions in marital violence.
    Keywords: domestic violence, employment status, property ownership, India
    JEL: J12 J15 J16
    Date: 2009–08
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4361&r=hap
  4. By: Nicole D. Forry (Child Trends); Sandra L. Hofferth (University of Maryland)
    Abstract: With the passage of welfare reform, parents’ ability to not only obtain, but maintain work has become imperative. The role of child care subsidies in supporting parents’ job tenure has received little attention in the literature. This article examines the relationship between receiving a child care subsidy and the likelihood of experiencing a child care-related work disruption using two samples and both cross-sectional and longitudinal regression models. Child care-related work disruptions are found to be less likely among subsidy recipients across samples and methods. Program implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
    Keywords: child care, subsidy, employment, cost, job tenure
    Date: 2009–07
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1175&r=hap
  5. By: Robin S. Högnäs (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Marcia J. Carlson (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    Abstract: Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=2,648), we examine the association between intergenerational family relationships and the union stability of married and unmarried parents over five years after a baby’s birth. Our results show that more amiable relationships between fathers and the baby’s maternal grandparents are associated with a greater likelihood of marriage, and the focal child’s spending more time with their paternal grandparents is linked with cohabitation. Children’s greater contact with maternal grandparents is associated with diminished union stability, although this result is not robust to methods that better address selection. Our findings underscore the importance of considering broader social contexts for understanding contemporary patterns of union formation and dissolution among parents with children.
    Keywords: Fragile Families, Intergenerational Relationships, Union Stability
    Date: 2009–07
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pri:crcwel:1174&r=hap
  6. By: Andrew Mearman (Department of Economics, University of the West of England, UK); Tim Wakeley (Griffith University, Australia); Gamila Shoib (Griffith University, Australia); Don J. Webber (Department of Business Economics, Auckland University of Technology and Department of Economics, UWE, Bristol)
    Abstract: This paper contributes to the debate on pluralism in the Economics curriculum. Here pluralism means a diversity of theoretical perspectives. One set of pedagogical arguments for pluralism are those found in ‘liberal’ philosophy of education. To this end, the first part of the paper presents arguments for pluralism based on ‘liberal’ pedagogical arguments. The paper also notes more instrumental arguments for pluralism; and barriers to such an approach. Finally, the paper considers new primary evidence from focus groups on student perceptions of economics. This evidence shows support for the arguments that a pluralist curriculum is popular and develops cognitive capacities of criticism, comparison and analysis – exactly those argued for in (liberal) pedagogical discussion – as well as judgement, understanding and writing skills. However, pluralism as a teaching strategy may be more difficult for those delivering it.
    Keywords: Students; pedagogy, pluralism, perceptions, focus groups
    JEL: A22 B4 B5
    Date: 2009–08
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:uwe:wpaper:0916&r=hap
  7. By: Martin Huber; Michael Lechner; Conny Wunsch
    Abstract: Using exceptionally rich linked administrative and survey information on German welfare recipients we investigate the health effects of transitions from welfare to employment and of assignments to welfare-to-work programmes. Applying semi-parametric propensity score matching estimators we find that employment substantially increases (mental) health. The positive effects are mainly driven by males and individuals with bad initial health conditions and are largest for males with poor health. In contrast, the effects of welfare-to-work pro-grammes, including subsidized jobs, are ambiguous and statistically insignificant for most outcomes. Robustness checks that include a semi-parametric instrumental variable approach do not provide reasons for concern.
    Keywords: Welfare programs, health effects
    JEL: I38 J68 I10
    Date: 2009–08
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:usg:dp2009:2009-21&r=hap
  8. By: Andreas Kuhn (Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Switzerland); Rafael Lalive; Josef Zweimüller
    Abstract: We study the short-run effect of involuntary job loss on comprehensive measures of public health costs. We focus on job loss induced by plant closure, thereby addressing the reverse causality problem of deteriorating health leading to job loss as job displacements due to plant closure are unlikely caused by workers' health status, but potentially have important effects on individual workers' health and associated public health costs. Our empirical analysis is based on a rich data set from Austria providing comprehensive information on various types of health care costs and day-by-day work history at the individual level. Our central findings are: (i) overall expenditures on medical treatments (hospitalizations, drug prescriptions, doctor visits) are not strongly affected by job displacement; (ii) job loss increases expenditures for antidepressants and related drugs, as well as for hospitalizations due to mental health problems for men (but not for women); and (iii) sickness benefits strongly increase due to job loss.
    Keywords: social cost of unemployment, health, job loss, plant closure
    JEL: I12 I19 J28 J65
    Date: 2009–08
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2009_13&r=hap
  9. By: Arie Kapteyn; James P. Smith; Arthur Van Soest
    Abstract: The authors analyze the determinants of global life satisfaction in two countries (The Netherlands and the U.S.), by using both self-reports and responses to a battery of vignette questions. They find global life satisfaction of happiness is well-described by four domains: job or daily activities, social contacts and family, health, and income. Among the four domains, social contacts and family have the highest impact on global life satisfaction, followed by job and daily activities and health. Income has the lowest impact. As in other work, they find that American response styles differ from the Dutch in that Americans are more likely to use the extremes of the scale (either very satisfied or very dissatisfied) than the Dutch, who are more inclined to stay in the middle of the scale. Although for both Americans and the Dutch, income is the least important determinant of global life satisfaction, it is more important in the U.S. than in The Netherlands. Indeed life satisfaction varies substantially more with income in the U.S. than in The Netherlands.
    Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, vignettes, reporting bias
    JEL: I31 J28 D31
    Date: 2009–07
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:ran:wpaper:691&r=hap
  10. By: Veenhoven, Ruut
    Abstract: There is a longstanding discussion on whether happiness is culturally relative or not. The following questions are addressed in that context: 1) Do we all assess how much we like our life? 2) Do we appraise our life on the same grounds? 3) Are the conditions for happiness similar for all of us? 4) Are the consequences of happiness similar in all cultures? 5) Do we all seek happiness? 6) Do we seek happiness in similar ways? 7) Do we enjoy life about equally much? The available data suggest that all humans tend to assess how much they like their life. The evaluation draws on affective experience, which is linked to gratification of universal human needs and on cognitive comparison which is framed by cultural standards of the good life. The overall appraisal seems to depend more on the former, than on the latter source of information. Conditions for happiness appear to be quite similar across the world and so are the consequences of enjoying life or not. There is more cultural variation in the valuation of happiness and in beliefs about conditions for happiness. The greatest variation is found in how happy people are.
    Keywords: happiness; life satisfaction; cultural relativism; human nature; utilitarianism
    JEL: Z10 I00 D60
    Date: 2008–10–13
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pra:mprapa:16853&r=hap

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