New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2009‒12‒19
ten papers chosen by

  1. Work status and family planning: Insights from the Italian puzzle By Sabatini Fabio
  2. Income Distribution and Subjective Happiness: A Survey By Claudia Senik
  3. On the Use of Subjective Well-Being Data for Environmental Evaluation By Ferreira, Susana; Moro, Mirko
  4. The Effect of Maternal Work Conditions on Child Development By Christina Felfe; Amy Hsin
  5. On the Causal Impact of Relational Goods on Happiness By Leonardo Becchetti; Elena Giachin Ricca; Alessandra Pelloni
  6. Immigration and Human Development: Evidence from Lebanon By Tabar, Paul
  7. Immigration, Ethics and the Capabilities Approach By Risse, Mathias
  8. How Would your Kids Vote if I Open my Doors? Evidence from Venezuela By Rodriguez, Francisco; Wagner, Rodrigo
  9. Human Development of Peoples By Ortega, Daniel E.
  10. The Living Conditions and Well-being of Refugees By de Bruijn, Bart

  1. By: Sabatini Fabio
    Abstract: This paper uses a dataset built by the author on the basis of raw data taken from different national surveys to carry out an investigation into the socio-economic determinants of couples’ childbearing decisions in Italy. Since having children is in most cases a “couple matter”, the analysis accounts for the characteristics of both the aspiring parents. Our results contradict theoretical predictions according to which the increase in the opportunity cost of motherhood connected to higher female labour participation is responsible for the fall in fertility. On the contrary, the instability of the women’s work status (i.e. their being occasional, precarious, and low-paid workers) reveals to be a significant and strong dissuasive deterrent discouraging the decision to have children. Couples with unemployed women are less likely to plan childbearing as well. Other relevant explanatory variables are age, current family size, and the strength of family ties.
    Keywords: Fertility, Family planning, Childbearing, Labour market, Female participation, Labour precariousness, Social capital, Italy
    JEL: C25 J13 Z1
    Date: 2009–11
  2. By: Claudia Senik
    Abstract: This survey summarises the insights that the new literature based on subjective data has shed on the issue of income inequality and income comparisons. It reviews the various channels that relate income distribution and subjective well-being. It considers the welfare effect of income gaps in general, both in terms of the difference between individual income and the income of some relevant other, and with regard to generic income distribution. Concerning income comparisons, the general lesson is that it is useful to distinguish status effects from signal effects: income comparisons hurt, but they may also increase life satisfaction when they mean good news; this is all the more likely as the reference group is made of people who most likely share a common destiny. Concerning income distribution in general, the relationship with subjective well-being is generally found to be negative, with higher societal inequality being associated with lower subjective well-being. There are many possible pathways which may lie behind such an empirical finding. The first type of aversion to income inequality derives from self-centred motives, such as risk-aversion and prospects for upward mobility (POUM). Both stem from a perception of the income distribution as a ladder that one risks falling from or has a chance to climb. Attitudes to inequality are also sometimes found to be based on other-regarding preferences such as fairness and reciprocity, which are generally independent of the income position of the individual himself. An important point is that subjective attitudes are the joint output of preferences and beliefs concerning income distribution in society. The demand for redistribution is higher whenever people have strong preferences for equal outcomes or opportunities but believe that in the society in which they live, outcomes or opportunities are actually not equal. As illustrated by several studies, preferences and beliefs concerning income distribution are context dependent and are thus heterogeneous across countries and groups of the population.<BR>Cet article présente une revue de la littérature consacrée au lien entre inégalités de revenu et bien-être subjectif. Elle résume les apports des études empiriques fondées sur l’exploitation des données subjectives disponibles dans les grandes enquêtes auprès de la population. Elle considère l’effet des écarts de revenu au sens étroit – comparaisons avec le revenu d’un groupe de référence – et au sens large – effet des inégalités de revenu en général. Les études relatives aux comparaisons de revenu mettent en lumière deux phénomènes différents : les effets de statut (envie), dont l’impact sur le bien-être subjectif est négatif, et les effets de signal, dont l’impact est positif. L’effet de signal est lié au contenu informationnel du revenu d’autrui ; il est d’autant plus important que les membres du groupe de référence partagent un grand nombre de caractéristiques productives, donc des perspectives professionnelles communes. Concernant la répartition générale des revenus dans la société, les travaux empiriques conduisent généralement à l’établissement d’une relation négative entre inégalité des revenus et bien-être subjectif. Les phénomènes en jeu sont multiples. Un premier type d’attitude vis-à-vis des inégalités de revenus relève de l’aversion au risque ou des perspectives de mobilité ascendante. Dans les deux cas, l’échelle des revenus est perçue par les individus d’un point de vue autocentré, en tant que chance d’ascension ou risque de chute. Cependant, un grand nombre de travaux empiriques suggère également l’existence de préférences concernant le revenu d’autrui. Plus précisément, l’attitude vis-à-vis des inégalités dépend de la conjonction entre les croyances et les préférences des agents concernant la formation des inégalités. La demande de redistribution est ainsi plus forte lorsque les agents expriment une préférence pour l’égalité des revenus ou des opportunités, mais estiment que cette égalité n’est pas réalisée dans les faits. Certaines études illustrent alors l’hétérogénéité des préférences et des croyances selon les pays et les groupes sociaux.
    Keywords: demand for income distribution, income comparisons, income distribution, subjective well-being
    JEL: C23 D61 D63 D64 H24 I31
    Date: 2009–12–02
  3. By: Ferreira, Susana; Moro, Mirko
    Abstract: This paper explores the potential of using subjective well-being (SWB) data to value environmental attributes. A theoretical framework compares this method, also known as the lifesatisfaction approach, with the standard hedonic pricing approach, identifying their similarities and differences. As a corollary, we show how SWB data can be used to test for the equilibrium condition implicit in the hedonic approach (i.e., equality of utility across locations). Results for Ireland show that the equilibrium condition required by the hedonic pricing approach in Irish markets does not hold. They also show that air quality, in the baseline specification, and warmer climate, across all the specifications, have a significant positive impact on SWB. Their associated monetary estimates, however, seem too large.
    Keywords: air pollution; climate; life satisfaction; subjective well-being; hedonic pricing; happiness; environmental valuation
    Date: 2009–12
  4. By: Christina Felfe; Amy Hsin
    Abstract: This study goes beyond the much-studied impact of mothers' labor force participation on children's development and investigates how mothers' working environment affects children's cognitive and non-cognitive performance. Using data from the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Occupational Information Network and applying a value added plus specification we find a negative impact of the hazards involved in mothers' jobs on their children’s non-cognitive achievement, but not on their cognitive performance. Nevertheless, stratification according to mothers' verbal skills reveals that only the personality development of children of mothers with high verbal skills is affected. Upon further investigation,we find that a possible mechanism through which maternal work conditions affect child outcomes is through reduced mother-child interactions
    Keywords: Child Development, Maternal Labor Supply, Occupational Disamenities
    JEL: J13 J22 J81
    Date: 2009–12
  5. By: Leonardo Becchetti (Faculty of Economics, University of Rome "Tor Vergata"); Elena Giachin Ricca (Faculty of Economics, University of Rome "Tor Vergata"); Alessandra Pelloni (Faculty of Economics, University of Rome "Tor Vergata")
    Abstract: We study the effect of relational goods on life satisfaction. We consider that retirement is an event after which the time investable in personal relationships increases so we instrument social life, which we suspect of being endogenous, with the sample proportion of retired by year. With such approach we document that relational goods have a positive and significant effect on life satisfaction.
    Keywords: life satisfaction, relational goods, social capital.
    JEL: I30 D61 A11 A13
    Date: 2009–12–04
  6. By: Tabar, Paul
    Abstract: This paper takes Lebanon as a case study to examine the relationship between human development and immigration. It examines this issue from both ends: the sending and the receiving countries. The author suggests that by developing the concept of a diasporic civil society and a diasporic public sphere, a significant aspect of the relationship between human development and immigration is illuminated especially at the level of political, social and cultural capitals. The paper also argues that the double impact of the home country and that of destination has a lot to say about the influence of immigration on human development in Lebanon. In examining Australia as a destination country, the paper shows the particular impact that globalisation and September 11 have lately had on the capacity of the Lebanese migrants for human development. Finally, the paper concludes by showing the extent to which the diasporic civil society compensates for the ‘negligent’ character of the Lebanese state in the context of human development.
    Keywords: Lebanese diaspora; human development; diasporic civil society; diasporic public sphere; economic and social capitals
    JEL: O15
    Date: 2009–08–01
  7. By: Risse, Mathias
    Abstract: Often, immigration debates are conducted under the presumption that immigration policies must be justifiable only to those who already live in the respective country. Alas, reflection on the justifiability of immigration policies to those excluded becomes ever more important in a politically and economically increasingly interconnected world. This study explores two approaches to the normative reflection on immigration at some depth, namely, the idea that restrictive immigration policies are problematic because they are hampering the development of human capabilities, as well as the idea that such policies are problematic because they are at odds with the fact that our planet belongs to humanity collectively. On both of these proposals, less restrictive immigration policies are not merely demanded as one possible way of aiding the poor, but would be required as such. Both of these approaches can be treated within the same framework, the grounds-of-justice framework, which allows us to focus on the idea that states must also be justified to those who do not belong to them. Central to the proposal about immigration that can be made within this approach are ideas of over- and under-use of commonly owned resources and spaces.
    Keywords: Immigration; justice; capabilities; common ownership of the earth; resources
    JEL: O15
    Date: 2009–08–01
  8. By: Rodriguez, Francisco; Wagner, Rodrigo
    Abstract: For how long does cultural heritage persist? Do the culturally inherited values of immigrants dilute as generations pass? We answer these question by studying the relationship between revealed political behavior of immigrant families and the culture of the place where they migrated from, either one or many generations ago. Using surnames as indicators of region of origin of Italians in Venezuela, we study the effect of cultural heritage on two indicators of revealed political behavior: (i) propensity for civic engagement, and (ii) propensity for redistribution. A well established literature documents greater propensity for civic engagement and lower propensity for redistribution among Northern Italians. In Venezuela, we measure the former by turnout before the era of political polarization and the latter by signing behavior against Hugo Chávez in the 2004 recall referendum drive. Despite the fact that the wave of Italian immigration to Venezuela occurred more than half a century before the events studied in this paper, we do not find a greater propensity for civic engagement nor preference against redistribution among descendants from Northern as opposed to Southern Italians, suggesting that cultural assimilation may be a strong determinant of political behavior in the long run.
    Keywords: Social capital; political incorporation of immigrants; family economics; redistribution; political preferences; civic engagement; Latin America
    JEL: F22 Z1 P26
    Date: 2009–08–01
  9. By: Ortega, Daniel E.
    Abstract: This paper provides a framework and estimates of Enrollment Rates per natural and combines them with previous Income and Child Mortality per natural estimates by Clemens and Pritchett (2008) to produce a Human Development Index Per Natural. The methodology is applied for 1990 and 2000 to provide estimates of growth rates of this measure over the period. The paper also develops and illustrates a framework for estimating an education place premium, and discusses how it is related to per natural measures. The peoples of the least developed countries stand to gain the most from international migration, but there are potentially significant gains to migration between developing countries as well.
    Keywords: Migration; Human Development; Education
    JEL: F22 O24 O15
    Date: 2009–10–01
  10. By: de Bruijn, Bart
    Abstract: In the study of international mobility, refugees make up a very specific population. In contrast to most migrants, forcibly displaced persons have little opportunity for expanding livelihoods, and are usually faced with realities that deny them a dignified life and fulfilment of their capabilities. In many situations, people who left their homes to escape from persecution, armed conflict or violence face restrictive policies of the countries in which they found refuge and become critically dependent on humanitarian assistance. This paper describes living conditions and wellbeing of refugees – and more particularly camp-based refugees – in six countries with protracted refugee conditions: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya in Africa, and Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand in Asia. It primarily draws on UNHCR’s ‘Standards and Indicators’ data. Thematic areas covered in the paper include legal protection, gender-related issues, food security and nutritional status, health, education, and refugee livelihoods and coping strategies. The assessment of refugees’ living conditions proceeds along two different perspectives. The first is a gap analysis based on UNHCR standards, which are largely in line with SPHERE standards. The second is a comparison of refugees’ living conditions with those of host populations in the country of asylum and with those of populations on the country of origin. The available data lead to the conclusion that the living conditions of refugees vary across thematic areas and are strongly contextualised, depending on a complex of social, economic, political and attitudinal factors. There is also evidence that despite often grim conditions, at times the targeted efforts of humanitarian assistance and own coping strategies produce situations for refugees that are relatively better than that of the local hosting communities or the population in the region of origin.
    Keywords: Refugees; displacement; living conditions; livelihoods; protection; UNHCR
    JEL: O15 I3
    Date: 2009–07–01

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