nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒10‒10
four papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. The Effect of Lone Motherhood on the Smoking Behaviour of Young Adults By Francesconi, Marco; Jenkins, Stephen P.; Siedler, Thomas
  2. Meet the Parents? The Causal Effect of Family Size on the Geographic Distance between Adult Children and Older Parents By Holmlund, Helena; Rainer, Helmut; Siedler, Thomas
  3. Happiness and Health Care Coverage By Blanchflower, David G.
  4. Life Satisfaction and Relative Income: Perceptions and Evidence By Mayraz, Guy; Wagner, Gert G.; Schupp, Jürgen

  1. By: Francesconi, Marco (University of Essex); Jenkins, Stephen P. (University of Essex); Siedler, Thomas (DIW Berlin)
    Abstract: We provide evidence that living with an unmarried mother during childhood raises smoking propensities for young adults in Germany.
    Keywords: smoking, lone parent, childhood family structure, divorce, unobserved heterogeneity
    JEL: I10 J12 J18
    Date: 2009–09
  2. By: Holmlund, Helena (CEP, London School of Economics); Rainer, Helmut (University of St. Andrews); Siedler, Thomas (DIW Berlin)
    Abstract: An emerging question in demographic economics is whether there is a link between family size and the geographic distance between adult children and elderly parents. Given current population trends, understanding how different configurations of family size and sibship influence patterns of child-parent proximity is vitally important, as it impacts on issues such as intergenerational care and everyday mobility. It may be the case, for example, that larger families enable the responsibility of care for older parents to be shared among more siblings, possibly decreasing individual involvement and relaxing constraints on geographic mobility. However, there is no causal evidence to date on this issue. This study is the first attempt to estimate the causal effect of sibship size on the geographic distance between older parents and adult children by using a large administrative data set from Sweden. We find a positive association between sibship size and child-parent geographic distance. However, when we use multiple births and sibship sex composition as instruments for family size, we do not find any evidence that the observed positive relationship represents a causal effect. Given that family sizes are continuing to fall in many developed countries, our findings suggest that the trend towards smaller families will not necessarily result in adult children being more constrained in terms of their geographic location decisions, at least in countries with extensive state-provision of elderly care.
    Keywords: child-parent geographic proximity, family size
    JEL: J10 C10
    Date: 2009–09
  3. By: Blanchflower, David G. (Dartmouth College)
    Abstract: In this paper I examine the characteristics of adults who report on whether they have health care coverage and of people who say that they are unable to see a doctor over the preceding year because of the cost. I make use of a unique data set, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a phone survey undertaken in the United States for the years 2005-2009. I find evidence that not having the ability to see a doctor because of an inability to pay is a major and substantial source of unhappiness in the United States, even for people with high income.
    Keywords: life satisfaction, health care coverage
    JEL: I18
    Date: 2009–09
  4. By: Mayraz, Guy (CEP, London School of Economics); Wagner, Gert G. (DIW Berlin); Schupp, Jürgen (DIW Berlin)
    Abstract: Using a unique dataset we study both the actual and self-perceived relationship between subjective well-being and income comparisons against a wide range of potential comparison groups, enabling us to investigate a broader range of questions than in previous studies. In questions inserted into a 2008 module of the German-Socio Economic Panel Study we ask subjects to report (a) how their income compares to various groups, such a co-workers, friends, and neighbours, and (b) how important these income comparisons are to them. We find substantial gender differences, with income comparisons being much better predictors of subjective well-being in men than in women. Generic (same-gender) comparisons are the most important, followed by within profession comparisons. Once generic and within-profession comparisons are controlled for, income relative to neighbours has a negative coefficient, implying that living in a high-income neighbourhood increases happiness. The perceived importance of income comparisons is found to be uncorrelated with its actual relationship to subjective well-being, suggesting that people are unconscious of its real impact. Subjects who judge comparisons to be important are, however, significantly less happy than subjects who see income comparisons as unimportant. Finally, the marginal effect of relative income on subjective well-being does not depend on whether a subject is below or above the reference group income.
    Keywords: income comparisons, relative income, life satisfaction, German Socio Economic Panel Study, SOEP
    JEL: D31 D62 D63 I3 I31 Z13
    Date: 2009–09

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