nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2010‒10‒02
nine papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Recent Advances in the Economics of Individual Subjective Well-Being By Bruno S. Frey
  2. QUE FAIRE DE « L'APPROCHE PAR LES CAPACITES » ? Pour une lecture « rawlsienne » de l'apport de Sen By Claude Gamel
  3. Education and Freedom of Choice: Evidence from Arranged Marriages in Vietnam By Stephen C. Smith; M. Shahe Emran; Fenohasina Maret
  4. Institutions, Famine and Inequality By Pasquale Tridico; Francesco Burchi
  5. Mortality, family and lifestyles By Grégory Ponthière
  6. Chidl height, health and human capital: evidence using genetic markers By Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder; George Davey Smith; Debbie A. Lawlor; Carol Propper; Frank Windmeijer
  7. Human Capital Investments in Children: A Comparative Analysis of the Role of Parent-Child Shared Time in Selected Countries By Joachim Merz; Eva Österbacka; Cathleen D. Zick
  8. Approximate interpersonal comparisons of well-being By Pivato, Marcus
  9. Volunteer work and domain satisfactions: Evidence from Italy By Damiano Fiorillo

  1. By: Bruno S. Frey (University of Basel)
    Abstract: Over the last decades, empirical research on subjective well-being in the social<br />sciences has provided a major new stimulus to the discourse on individual happiness.<br />Recently this research has also been linked to economics where reported subjective wellbeing<br />is often taken as a proxy measure for individual welfare. In our review, we intend to<br />provide an evaluation of where the economic research on happiness stands and of three<br />directions it might develop. First, it offers new ways for testing the basic assumptions of the<br />economic approach and for going about a new understanding of utility. Second, it provides a<br />new possibility for the complementary testing of theories across fields in economics. Third,<br />we inquire how the insights gained from the study of individual happiness in economics affect<br />public policy.<br />Keywords: Economics, happiness, life satisfaction, survey data, income, public goods,<br />unemployment<br />JEL Classifications: A10, D60, H41, I31
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Claude Gamel (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - CNRS : UMR6579)
    Abstract: « L'approche par les capacités » d'Amartya Sen fait consensus auprès des théoriciens et praticiens de toutes les sciences sociales, en dépit, semble-t-il, d'un problème de cohérence d'ensemble de cette approche et d'un problème d'applicabilité des politiques publiques qu'elle suscite. C'est pourquoi nous défendons l'idée que l'apport incontestable de Sen – le passage des « ressources » aux « capacités » - serait bien plus fécond et mieux valorisé en restant « encastré » dans le cadre général et hiérarchisé de la théorie de la justice de John Rawls. De ce fait, il est permis de douter de la pertinence du clivage fondamental, récemment proposé par Sen, entre les conceptions « transcendantale » et «comparative » de la justice sociale, clivage qui le pousse à radicaliser encore sa critique de la théorie rawlsienne.
    Keywords: Ressources, capacités, principes de justice, approche transcendantale, approche comparative.
    Date: 2010–09–21
  3. By: Stephen C. Smith; M. Shahe Emran (Department of Economics/Institute for International Economic Policy, George Washington University); Fenohasina Maret (Department of Economics, George Washington University)
    Abstract: Using household data from Vietnam, we provide evidence on the causal effects of education on freedom of spouse choice. We use war disruptions and spatial indicators of schooling supply as instruments. The point estimates indicate that a year of additional schooling reduces the probability of an arranged marriage by about 14 percentage points for an individual with 8 years of schooling. We also estimate bounds that do not rely on the exact exclusion restrictions (lower bound is 6-7 percentage points). The impact of education is strong for women, but much weaker for men.
    Keywords: Arranged Marriage, Education, Schooling, Freedom of choice, Development, Vietnam, Social Interactions
    JEL: I2 O12 D1 J12
    Date: 2009–11
  4. By: Pasquale Tridico; Francesco Burchi
    Abstract: In this paper we analyze whether and which political institutions are important for famine prevention and for keeping the levels of inequality low. While famines are sudden crises hitting a country, inequality is a structural problem. As a consequence, the institutions needed might be very different. The econometric exercises realized on a group of emerging and developing countries confirm the validity of Amartya Sen’s “democracy prevents famine” argument, while democracy is not a significant determinant of income inequality. These results are in line with previous ones, suggesting an unclear role of democratic institutions in facing other structural problems, such as hunger and poverty. Moreover, two main institutional indicators, computed by the World Bank, “control of corruption” and “government effectiveness” are negatively correlated with famine mortality, suggesting that the policy environment, the level of bureaucracy, governmental capacity to take decisions and implement them in a short period are relevant factors for reducing famine mortality. In contrast, political stability explains better income inequality in our sample of countries. Social peace and cohesion are deterrent for inequality, but the direction of the relationship should be investigated further.
    Keywords: Famine; Inequality; Institutions; Democracy; Cross-country analysis
    JEL: I39 D63
    Date: 2010–09
  5. By: Grégory Ponthière
    Abstract: While there is a large empirical literature on the intergenerational transmission of health and survival outcomes in relation to lifestyles, little theoretical work exists on the long-run prevalence of (un)healthy lifestyles induced by mortality patterns. To examine that issue, this paper develops an overlapping generations model where a healthy lifestyle and an unhealthy lifestyle are transmitted vertically or obliquely across generations. It is shown that there must exist a locally stable heterogeneous equilibrium involving a majority of healthy agents, as a result of the larger parental gains from socialization efforts under a higher life expectancy. Wealso examine the robustness of our results to the introduction of parental altruistic concerns for children's health and of asymmetric socialization costs.
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder; George Davey Smith; Debbie A. Lawlor; Carol Propper; Frank Windmeijer
    Abstract: Height has long been recognised as associated with better outcomes: the question is whether this association is causal. We use children’s genetic variants as instrumental variables (IV) to deal with possible unobserved confounders and examine the effect of child and adolescent height on a wide range of outcomes: academic performance, IQ, self-esteem, symptoms related to depression and behavioural problems, including hyperactivity, emotional, conduct and peer problems. OLS findings show that taller children have higher IQ scores, perform better in school tests, and are less likely to have emotional or peer problems. The IV results differ. They show that taller children have better cognitive performance but, in contrast to the OLS, indicate that taller children are more likely to have behavioural problems. The magnitude of these IV estimates is large. For example, the effect of one standard deviation increase in height on IQ is comparable to the IQ difference for children born approximately 6 months apart within the same school year, while the increase in hyperactivity is comparable to the raw difference in hyperactivity between boys and girls.
    Keywords: Child and adolescent height; human capital; mental health; behavioural outcomes; instrumental variables; Mendelian randomization; genetic variants; ALSPAC
    JEL: I1 J24
    Date: 2010–09
  7. By: Joachim Merz; Eva Österbacka; Cathleen D. Zick (LEUPHANA University Lüneburg,Department of Economic, Behaviour and Law Sciences, Research Institute on Professions (Forschungsinstitut Freie Berufe (FFB)))
    Abstract: Parents invest in their children’s human capital in several ways. We investigate the extent to which the levels and composition of parent-child time varies across countries with different welfare regimes: Finland, Germany and the United States. We test the hypothesis of parentchild time as a form of human capital investment in children using a propensity score treatment effects approach that accounts for the possible endogenous nature of time use and human capital investment. Result: There is considerable evidence of welfare regime effects on parent-child shared time. Our results provide mixed support for the hypothesis that non-care related parent-child time is human capital enriching. The strongest support is found in the case of leisure time and eating time.
    Keywords: parent-child time, comparative research, welfare regimes, Finland, Germany, USA, treatment effects, propensity score matching
    JEL: D1 J24 J22 H43
    Date: 2010–07
  8. By: Pivato, Marcus
    Abstract: We propose a mathematical model of `approximate' interpersonal comparisons of well-being, in terms of an incomplete preorder over a space of `psychophysical states'. We argue that this model is consistent with people's intuitions about interpersonal comparisons, intertemporal preferences, and changes in psychological identity over time. We then construct several simple mathematical models to illustrate the versatility of this approach.
    Keywords: interpersonal comparisons; utility; well-being; welfare; intertemporal choice; metapreferences; multi-utility;
    JEL: D70 D63 I31
    Date: 2010–09–20
  9. By: Damiano Fiorillo (-)
    Abstract: The paper empirically investigates if individuals who supply volunteer work are more satisfied with three domain satisfactions - leisure, friends' relationships and economic situation – than nonvolunteers. Using Istat's (Italian Central Statistical Office) Multiscopo data set for the period 1993- 2000, it finds that volunteer labour supplied in official volunteer service association is positively correlated with leisure satisfaction, friends' relationships satisfaction and economic situation satisfaction. These findings are interpreted as an indication that the benefits from volunteering are a combination of the following reasons: i) intrinsic motivation; ii) extrinsic motivation; iii) relational goods.
    Keywords: volunteering, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, relational goods, domain satisfactions, Multiscopo.
    JEL: C21 C25 D71 I31 Z10
    Date: 2010–09–22

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