New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2010‒03‒20
five papers chosen by

  1. Social Distance, Cooperation and Other Regarding Preferences: A New Approach Based on the Theory of Relational Goods By Leonardo Becchetti; Giacomo Degli Antoni; Marco Faillo
  2. The Relationship between Social Capital and Corporate Social Responsibility: Modelling Cognitive Social Capital and CSR as Preconditions of Sustainable Networks of Relations By Giacomo Degli Antoni; Lorenzo Sacconi
  3. Breaking the Net: Family Structure and Street Children in Zambia. By Francesco Strobbe; Claudia Olivetti; Mireille Jacobson
  4. Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being By Andrew E. Clark; Fabrice Etilé
  5. The Size and Composition of Government Spending in Europe and Its Impact on Well-Being By Hessami, Zohal

  1. By: Leonardo Becchetti (University of Rome Tor Vergata); Giacomo Degli Antoni (EconomEtica); Marco Faillo (University of Trento - Faculty of Economics)
    Abstract: The paper is divided in six sections. In the second section we provide a short survey of the literature on relational goods. In the third section we describe the experimental design of the two experiments presented in Becchetti et al. (2007) and Becchetti, Degli Antoni and Faillo (2009) (hereafter also B2007 and B2009). In the fourth section we discuss the hypotheses on the effect of relational goods on players’ behaviour in the two experiments. In the fifth section we discuss the main findings. The sixth section concludes.
    Date: 2010–03
  2. By: Giacomo Degli Antoni (University of Milano-Bicocca); Lorenzo Sacconi (University of Trento - Department of Economics)
    Abstract: Over the last few years, more and more attention has been devoted to trust trustworthiness and social norms of reciprocity and cooperation as key factors able to promote socio-economic development. Even though from different perspective, both the concept of social capital and the notion of corporate social responsibility refer to these elements. Since the seminal work by Putnam, Leonardi and Nanetti (1993) that focuses on the effects of social capital (hereafter also SC) on economic and government performance, the concept of SC has been widely used to analyse the role that interpersonal relations have in affecting economic activity by favouring cooperation. Many definitions of social capital have been proposed and two principal approaches to this concept may be identified. On one hand, social capital is defined in terms of generalised trust, civic norms, beliefs and dispositions which affect the propensity to cooperate (e.g. Putnam et al. 1993 and Knack and Keefer 1997). On the other hand, social capital is defined in terms of cooperative networks among agents (e.g. Coleman 1988; Lin 2001; Burt 2002). Many approaches also characterize the notion of corporate social responsibility (hereafter also CSR). In particular, if we consider the stakeholder approach (Freeman 1984, 2000, Freeman and Evan 1990) or the contractarian approach to CSR (Sacconi 2004; 2006; 2007 a,b), relational aspects, in terms of trust, trustworthiness, beliefs and dispositions to cooperate seem to be fundamental in promoting the coordination processes between the firm and its stakeholders that are essential to implement CSR practices.1 Even though several common elements seem to connect SC and CSR, their relationship has not yet been analysed in depth. In this paper we model the relationship between the firm and its stakeholders and analytically show the role that (cognitive) social capital and corporate social responsibility play in generating (structural) social capital.
    Date: 2010–03
  3. By: Francesco Strobbe; Claudia Olivetti; Mireille Jacobson
    Abstract: The safety net provided by the African extended family has traditionally been the basis for the assertion that “there is no such thing as an orphan in Africa” (Foster 2000). The assumption is that even families lacking sufficient resources to properly care for existing members are predisposed to take in orphans. Chronic poverty, coupled with an increasing malaria burden and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, has put this safety-net under severe strain, giving rise to an increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children and, in the extreme, to “street children.” Drawing on original fieldwork in the slums of Ndola in Northern Zambia we study the role of family structure in caring for vulnerable children. We try to isolate those features of a child’s nuclear and extended family that put him most at risk of ending up on the streets. We find that older, male children and particularly orphaned children are more likely to wind up on the street. Families with a male household head who is in poor health are more likely to originate street children. The educational level, age and employment status of the male head of household has little impact on the likelihood the family is associated with a child who has taken to the street. In contrast, households with surviving maternal grandparents or with a male head who has many sisters are significantly less likely to originate street children. These findings support the critical role that women play in poor countries, highlighting the importance of policies aimed at empowering women. At the same time, our findings show that policies aimed at improving the health of the male head of household can also yield important benefits. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that moving male heads from poor to good self-rated health status can increase the rate of GDP growth by as much as 0.20 to 0.33 of a percentage point per year.
    Date: 2010
  4. By: Andrew E. Clark; Fabrice Etilé
    Abstract: We use life satisfaction and Body Mass Index (BMI) information from three waves of the GSOEP to test for social interactions in BMI between spouses. Semi-parametric regressions show that partner's BMI is, beyond a certain level, negatively correlated with own satisfaction. Own BMI is positively correlated with satisfaction in thin men, and negatively correlated with satisfaction after some threshold. Critically, this latter threshold increases with partner's BMI when the individual is overweight. The negative well-being impact of own BMI is thus lower when the individual's partner is heavier. This is consistent with social contagion effects in weight. However, instrumental variable estimates suggest that the relationship is not causal, but rather reflects selection on the marriage market.
    Date: 2010
  5. By: Hessami, Zohal
    Abstract: This paper analyses whether large governments in Europe reflect efficient responses to a changing social and economic environment (‘welfare economic view’) as opposed to wasteful spending (‘public choice view’). To this end, the effect of government size on subjective well-being is estimated in a micro dataset covering twelve EU countries from 1990 to 2000. The estimations provide evidence for (i) an inversely U-shaped relationship between public sector size and well-being. (ii) The effect of government size on well-being depends on levels of corruption and decentralization as well as people’s ideological preferences and their position in the income distribution. Finally, (iii) higher levels of well-being could have been achieved by spending more on education and less on social protection.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction; well-being; public spending; government size
    JEL: H50 H40 H11 I31
    Date: 2010–03–07

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.