New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒10‒24
twelve papers chosen by

  1. Economic analysis on the socioeconomic determinants of child malnutrition in Lao PDR By Yusuke Kamiya
  2. Health Inequality and Its Determinants in New York By Kajal Lahiri; Zulkarnain Pulungan
  3. Transfers and Labor Market Behavior of the Elderly in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence from Vietnam By Juergen Jung; Chung Tran
  4. The Causal Effect of Teen Motherhood on Worklessness By Ian Walker; Yu Zhu
  5. Job Insecurity, Employability, Unemployment and Well-Being By Francis Green
  6. Couples as Partners and Parents over Children’s Early Years By Marcia J. Carlson; Natasha V. Pilkauskas; Sara S. McLanahan; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  7. Economic Trajectories in Non-Traditional Families with Children By Sara McLanahan; Jean Knab; Sarah Meadows
  8. Endogenous lifetime in an overlapping generations small open economy By Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
  9. Child policy ineffectiveness in an OLG small open economy with human capital accumulation and public education By Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
  10. Endogenous fertility, endogenous lifetime and economic growth: the role of health and child policies By Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
  11. Socioeconomic Success and Health in Later Life: Evidence from the Indonesia Family Life Survey By Firman Witoelar; John Strauss
  12. Growth, Quality, Happiness, and the Poor By McCloskey, Deirdre

  1. By: Yusuke Kamiya (Ph.D candidate, Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP),Osaka University)
    Abstract: The prevalence of stunting and underweight among Lao children is amongst the highest in the region. This paper provides a theoretical framework which integrates the mechanism of child malnutrition and a household decision-making behaviour and investigates the relationship between socioeconomic factors and child health outcomes. Using the Lao Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 3 dataset, it reveals that motherfs age and education level, ethnicity, household assets and community factors such as water, sanitation and communication infrastructure have a statistically significant impact on child nutritional status. The unobserved heterogeneities of both household and community are also found to be associated with child nutrition production.
    Keywords: Child malnutrition, Anthropometrics, Stunting, Wasting, Underweight, Social determinants of health, Millennium Development Goal (MDG), Health policies, Lao PDR (Laos)
    JEL: I18 O15 O21
    Date: 2009–10
  2. By: Kajal Lahiri; Zulkarnain Pulungan
    Abstract: Self-assessed health status conditioned by several objective measures of health and socio-demographic characteristics are used to measure health inequality. We compare the quality of health and health inequality among different racial/ethnic groups as well as across 17 regions in New York State. In terms of average health and health inequality, American Indian/Alaskan Natives and Hispanics are found to be the worst, and North Country, Bronx County, and Richmond County lag behind the rest of the State. Three major contributing factors to health inequality are found to be employment status, education, and income. However, the contribution of each of these determinants varies significantly among racial/ethnic groups as well as across regions, suggesting targeted public health initiatives for vulnerable populations to eliminate overall health disparity.
    Date: 2009
  3. By: Juergen Jung (Department of Economics, Towson University); Chung Tran (Department of Economics, University of New South Wales)
    Abstract: In this paper we argue that the strategic interaction between the labor supply decision of the elderly and private transfers from their children lowers the opportunity cost of leisure of the elderly. This in turn magnifies the crowding-out effect of public pensions on the labor supply of the elderly. We show that this mechanism has implications for evaluating the crowding-out effect of public pensions in developing countries. That is, a misspecified econometric model that does not control for the endogeneity of private transfers leads to a biased estimate of the crowding-out effect of public pensions. Using data from a household survey in Vietnam we find that the effect of public pensions on the probability of retirement is 2.5 times larger when explicitly accounting for the interaction between private transfers and the labor supply decision of elderly individuals.
    Keywords: Altruism, crowding-out, social security, retirement, transfers.
    JEL: H31 H55 I38 J14 J22 J28
    Date: 2009–09
  4. By: Ian Walker; Yu Zhu
    Abstract: Teen motherhood continues to be high in the US and the UK relative to most other western European countries. While recent research has clarified how effective policies to reduce teen motherhood might be (Kearney (2009)), there remains little evidence that quantifies the causal effects of teen motherhood on such mothers and their first born children. This paper provides estimates of the causal effect of teen motherhood on worklessness and does so by exploiting the availability of two sources of exogenous variation in maternal age at first birth, which have not previously been used in this literature. Despite the strength of our instruments, we find no significant causal effects.
    Keywords: Teen Motherhood; Worklessness; Causal Effect
    JEL: I3 J13
    Date: 2009–10
  5. By: Francis Green
    Abstract: This paper shows that employability strongly moderates the effects of unemployment and of job insecurity on well-being. I develop a simple framework for employment insecurity and employability with two key features. First, it allows for the risks surrounding unemployment and employment transitions to affect well-being both directly and indirectly through their impact on expected income. Second, the framework allows for the interaction between unemployment and employability, and between job insecurity and employability. Using panel data from Australia, I provide new random effects and fixed effects estimates of the impact of unemployment and of job insecurity on life satisfaction and on mental health, in the context of a model that takes account of the interacting risks. As predicted, unemployed people with little hope of finding a job enjoy the least well-being by a considerable margin, while employed people who are both highly employable and in a secure job enjoy the most. In between there is substantial differentiation according to employability, job insecurity and their interaction. Compared to a secure job the deleterious effects of high job insecurity on well-being are comparable to the effects of unemployment. Both are substantial. The findings are used to compute estimates of the well-being trade-off between increases in job insecurity and increases in employability, relevant to the support of "flexicurity" and similar employment policies.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction; mental health; unemployment; employment; job insecurity; employability; flexicurity; employment insecurity; flexibility
    JEL: J28 J6 I12
    Date: 2009–10
  6. By: Marcia J. Carlson (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Natasha V. Pilkauskas (Columbia University); Sara S. McLanahan (Princeton University); Jeanne Brooks-Gunn (Columbia University)
    Abstract: We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine couple how couple relationship quality and parental engagement are linked over children’s early years. Our sample includes 1,630 couples that are co-resident over years 1 to 3 and 1,376 over years 3 to 5 (1,196 over both periods). Overall, we find that better relationship quality predicts greater parental engagement for both mothers and fathers—especially from children’s infant to toddler years; we find little evidence that parenting predicts future relationship quality. Married and cohabiting couples are generally similar in how relationship quality and parenting are linked. When couples are having their first birth, relationship quality is more strongly tied to parental engagement for fathers (but not mothers).
    Keywords: Couple relationship quality, parenting, fragile families
    Date: 2009–09
  7. By: Sara McLanahan; Jean Knab; Sarah Meadows
    Abstract: Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study this paper examines associations between family structure and economic trajectories during the first five years after a child’s birth, paying special attention to non-traditional families. Among families with stable structures, married-parent families have the highest economic wellbeing, followed by cohabiting-parent families and then single mothers. Among unstable families, exits from marriage and cohabitation are associated with declines in mothers’ economic wellbeing. Entering coresidential unions after a non-marital birth is associated with gains in single mothers’ economic wellbeing, especially if those unions involve the child’s biological father. Findings are robust across several measures of economic wellbeing including household income, income-to-needs ratios, and material hardship.
    Keywords: family structure, divorce, cohabitation, income, Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), growth curve analysis
    Date: 2009–09
  8. By: Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
    Abstract: Using a simple overlapping generations small open economy, we show that endogenous longevity – through public health expenditure – may reduce both the saving rate and per capita domestic income, while increasing the per capita foreign debt in a country. Moreover, despite funding public health capital is always beneficial for life expectancy, it may or may not represent a Pareto improvement with respect to the laissez-faire solution depending on whether the world interest rate is high or low enough, respectively.
    Keywords: Health; Life expectancy; OLG model; Small open economy.
    JEL: I18 O41
    Date: 2009–10–15
  9. By: Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
    Abstract: Motivated by the recent decrease in the number of children experienced in many developed countries, in this paper we consider an OLG small open economy with endogenous fertility and human capital formation through public education and look at the role the government can play in affecting fertility rates through the widely used child allowance policy. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we show that child allowances do not affect fertility. The policy implication is that the public provision of child allowances is not effective as a pro-natalist policy, while also reducing human capital accumulation. In contrast, enhancing the public provision of education is beneficial for both fertility and human capital.
    Keywords: Child allowance; Fertility; Public education; Small open economy.
    JEL: I28 J13
    Date: 2009–10–15
  10. By: Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
    Abstract: In this paper we link endogenous fertility, endogenous longevity, economic growth and public policies – represented by public health investments and child policies – in a basic overlapping generations model. We found that there even exist four equilibria, and thus low and high development regimes, which may be, however, determined by government policies, and concluded that when fertility is endogenous, increasing public health is always beneficial allowing economies to escape from poverty and, hence, to prosper. The same conclusion holds for the child tax policy. In particular, the latter result may be in accord with, for instance, the tremendous development experienced by China where a restrictive one child per family policy forced by the government planned and restricted the size of Chinese families, probably allowing some geographic areas within China to escape from poverty.
    Keywords: Child policy; Endogenous fertility; Health; Life expectancy; OLG model.
    JEL: I1 J13 O4
    Date: 2009–10–15
  11. By: Firman Witoelar; John Strauss
    Abstract: Indonesia has been undergoing a major health and nutrition transition over the past twenty or more years and there has begun a significant aging of the population as well. In this paper the authors focus on documenting major changes in the health of the population aged 45 years and older, since 1993. They use the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), a large-scale, broad-based panel survey of households and individuals, covering 4 full waves from 1993 to 2007/8. Much of the changes can be seen as improvements in health, such as the movement out of undernutrition and communicable disease as well as the increasing levels of hemoglobin. On the other hand, other changes such as the increase in overweight and waist circumference, especially among women, and continuing high levels of hypertension that seems to be inadequately addressed by the health system, indicate that the elderly population in Indonesia is increasingly exposed to higher risk factors that are correlated with chronic problems such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In addition to documenting long-run changes in health and its distribution among the elderly Indonesian population, they examine correlations between socio-economic status, principally education and percapita expenditure, and numerous health outcome and behavioral variables.
    Date: 2009–09
  12. By: McCloskey, Deirdre
    Abstract: Real national income per head in Britain rose by a factor of about 16 from the 18th century to the present. Other cases, such as that of the U.S. or Korea, have been even more startling, historically speaking. Like the realization in astronomy during the 1920s that most of the “nebulae” detected by telescopes are in fact other galaxies unspeakably far from ours, the Great Fact of economic growth, discovered by historians and economists in the 1950s and elaborated since then, changes everything. And 16, if one follows William Nordhaus’ persuasive arguments about quality improvements in (say) lighting, is a very low lower bound: the true factor is roughly 100. As Maxine Berg has argued, changing quality of products was as important as changes in process. But the gain is not to be measured by pot-of-pleasure “happiness studies.” These are questionable on technical grounds, but especially on the grounds that they do not measure human fulfillment. They ignore the humanities, pretending to scientific precision. It makes more sense to stay with things we economists can actually measure, such as the rise of human scope indicated by the factor of 16 or Nordhaus’ factor of 100, or by what Sen and Nussbaum call “capabilities.” Of course, what we really care about are the scope or capabilities of the poor. These have enormously expanded under “capitalism”---though a better word is simply “innovation,” arising from bourgeois dignity and liberty. It is the Bourgeois Deal: let me alertly seek profit, and I will make you rich.”
    Keywords: growth; quality; happiness; poor; bourgeois; industrial revolution
    JEL: N0 N13
    Date: 2009–06–07

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