nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2010‒10‒09
eleven papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Religious Participation versus Shopping: What Makes People Happier? By Cohen-Zada, Danny; Sander, William
  2. Determinants of Human Development: Insights from State-Dependent Panel Models By Michael Binder; Georgios Georgiadis
  3. A Hypothetical Cohort Model of Human Development By Jana Asher; Beth Osborne Daponte
  4. ICT4D and the Human Development and Capability Approach: The Potentials of Information and Communication Technology By Jean-Yves Hamel
  5. Divergences and Convergences in Human Development By David Mayer-Foulkes
  6. Graphical Statistical Methods for the Representation of the Human Development Index and its Components By César A. Hidalgo
  7. A Household-Based Human Development Index By Kenneth Harttgen; Stephan Klasen
  8. Satisfacción con la vida, fe religiosa y asistencia al templo en Uruguay By Zuleika Ferre; Mariana Gerstenblüth; Máximo Rossi
  9. Longitudinal Studies of Human Growth and Health: A Review of Recent Historical Research By Kris Inwood; Evan Roberts
  10. The Neglected Dimension of Well-Being: Analyzing the Development of "Conversion Efficiency" in Great Britain By Martin Binder; Tom Broekel
  11. Satisfaction with Life in Europe By Watson, Dorothy

  1. By: Cohen-Zada, Danny (Ben Gurion University); Sander, William (DePaul University)
    Abstract: In this paper, we first explore how an exogenous increase in the opportunity cost of religious participation affects individuals' religious participation and reported happiness using data from the General Social Survey. The exogenous shift in the cost of religious participation is a result of repealing of so-called blue laws which restrict retail activity on Sundays. We find that repealing blue laws causes a significant decline in the level of religious participation of white women and in their happiness. We do not observe any significant decline in reported happiness of other groups whose religious participation was not significantly affected by repeal. We also use repeal as an instrumental variable (IV) for church attendance and provide direct evidence that church attendance has a significant positive effect on happiness, especially for women.
    Keywords: religious participation, happiness, blue laws
    JEL: K10 J16
    Date: 2010–09
  2. By: Michael Binder (Graduate School of Economics, Finance, and Management at Goethe University, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Technical University Darmstadt and the Center for Financial Studies); Georgios Georgiadis (Graduate School of Economics, Finance, and Management at Goethe University, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Technical University Darmstadt)
    Abstract: In this paper, we study economic development in a panel of 84 countries from 1970 to 2005. We focus on characterizing heterogeneities in the development effects of macroeconomic policies and on comparing the development process as measured by GDP to that measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). We do so within a novel dynamic panel modelling framework that can account for crucial aspects of both the cross-sectional and intertemporal features of the observed process of economic development, and that can capture the dependence of the development effects of macroeconomic policies on differences in countries' persistent characteristics, such as their social norms and institutions. Among our findings are that macroeconomic policies affect economic development with less delay than suggested by conventional econometric frameworks, yet impact HDI with longer delay and overall less strongly than GDP. Differences in countries' persistent characteristics may even affect the sign of the long-run development effects of a given macroeconomic policy: Fiscal stimuli in the form of government consumption positively affect GDP in countries with low institutional quality, but negatively affect long-run GDP in countries with high institutional quality.
    Keywords: human development, institutions and social norms, dynamic panel modelling.
    JEL: C23 O10 O15
    Date: 2010–09
  3. By: Jana Asher (Human Development Research Office (HDRO), StatAid); Beth Osborne Daponte (Human Development Research Office (HDRO), Yale University)
    Abstract: This research provides a model of growth of the human development index (HDI) by examining past changes and levels of HDI and creates four ÒcohortsÓ of countries. Using a hypothetical cohort approach reveals a model of HDI growth. Generalized Estimating Equations are used to determine the impact that country characteristics have on HDI. The analysis shows that conflict has a significant impact on HDI. Further, while in 1970, the countries whose HDI was most impacted by conflict were developing nations, currently, conflict is most detrimental to the least developed countries. The research also shows that the 1990s presented particular challenges to the least developed countries, perhaps attributable to ramifications of the AIDS crisis. The research then uses the model to predict HDI in the future and compares results from the prediction with projections that result when Ðrecalculating HDI using components that various agencies have separately projected.
    Keywords: human development index, conflict, hypothetical cohorts
    JEL: O15 C53 O10 F01
    Date: 2010–09
  4. By: Jean-Yves Hamel (Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme)
    Abstract: This study frames a review of information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) within the human development and capabilities approach. Looking at the basic dimensions of human development, which make up the core measurement of its achievements: health, education and a income, and additionally at the dimensions of participation and empowerment, a survey of research and evidence seeks to evaluate whether or not ICTs have demonstrated positive outcomes for these dimensions of human development and more broadly to the practice of its approach. The paper reviews the literature and research conducted in these dimensions in order to establish a sense of the scope and potential that ICTs have for human development. By doing so, the paper seeks to assess whether or not the use of ICTs is pertinent to the human development of the poor, and if so, which are documented cases and outcomes that can perhaps be replicated in differing development contexts. The paper also seeks to answer questions on the role of government policy and investment in ICTs as keys to their success in development and whether or not ICTs should be emphasized at all in poor countries. The paper concludes with the important realisation that ICTs alone cannot improve peoplesÕ lives; the use of ICTs needs to occur within broader strategies that are tailored to make the most use of these tools and techniques in order to reap their potential benefits for human development.
    Keywords: human development, information and communication technology, ICT4D, telecommunications reform, empowerment, participation.
    JEL: D1 I0 O3 O15 Z1
    Date: 2010–09
  5. By: David Mayer-Foulkes (Division de Economia of the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, Mexico City)
    Abstract: I conduct a cross-country analysis of the human development index (HDI) components, income, life expectancy, literacy and gross enrolment ratios, using Gray and PurserÕs 1970-2005 quinquennial database for 111 countries. 1) A descriptive analysis uncovers a complex pattern of divergence and convergence for these componentsÕ evolution. Development is not a smooth process but consists of a series of superposed transitions each taking off with increasing divergence and then converging. 2) Absolute divergence/convergence for the HDI components is decomposed using simultaneous growth regressions including a full set of quadratic interactions between the HDI components, and indicators of urbanization, trade, institutions, foreign direct investment and physical geography. These are implemented, first, using three stage least squares, all of the non-exogenous independent variables fully instrumented, and second, as independent regressions with errors clustered by countries, again all non-exogenous variables instrumented. 3) A set of quantile regressions is run for the HDI component levels on the same variables (just the linear terms), again fully instrumented. Urbanization is a leading significant variable for human development indicators in both sets of estimates, stronger than trade, FDI and institutional indicators. These indicators act with ambiguous signs that may result from their distributive impacts, reducing their effectiveness. The results indicate that improving markets will have smaller returns than complementing them with institutions that can coordinate urbanization as well as investment in human capital. Urbanization itself can provide a concrete agenda for development involving all aspects of economic, political and social life as well as human development.
    Keywords: human development, growth, convergence, divergence, urbanization
    JEL: O11 O20 O47 O15
    Date: 2010–09
  6. By: César A. Hidalgo (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory and Harvard University Centre for International Development)
    Abstract: In this paper we introduce five graphical statistical methods to compare countries level of development relative to other countries and across time. For this, we use seven panels of data on the Human Development Index and its components, containing information on more than 100 countries for more than 35 years. We create visual comparisons of the level of development of countries relative to each other, and across time, through five different visualization techniques: (i) Rankings (ii) Values (iii) Distributions (iv) visual metaphors (The Development Tree), and (v) networks, by introducing the concepts of Partial Ordering Networks (PON) and Development Reference Groups (DRG). The graphical exploration of both, values and distributions, show a saturation of both the education and life dimensions of the HDI, suggesting a need to extend the definitions of this components to include either more subcomponents, or completely new measures that could help differentiate between countries facing different development challenges. The Development Tree and the Partial Ordering Network, on the other hand, are used to create graphical narratives of countries and regions. The simplicity of the Development Tree makes it an ideal graphical metaphor for branding the HDI in a multilingual setting, whereas Partial Ordering Networks provide a more organic way to group countries according to their levels of development and connect countries to those with similar development challenges. We conclude by arguing that graphical statistical methods could be used to help communicate complex data and concepts through universal cognitive channels that are heretofore underused in the development literature.
    Keywords: Human Development Index, Visualization, The Development Tree, Partial Ordering
    JEL: O15 B4 C82 O11
    Date: 2010–09
  7. By: Kenneth Harttgen (Department of Economics at the University of Gšttingen); Stephan Klasen (Department of Economics at the University of Gšttingen)
    Abstract: One of the most serious weaknesses of the human development index (HDI) is that it considers only average achievements and does not take into account the distribution of human development within a country or by population subgroups. All previous attempts to capture inequality in the HDI have also used aggregate information and there exists no HDI at the household level. This paper provides a method and illustration for calculating the HDI at the household level. This immediately allows the analysis of the HDI by any kind of population subgroups and by household socioeconomic characteristics. Furthermore, it allows to apply any kind of inequality measure to the HDI across population subgroups and over time. We illustrate our approach for 15 developing countries. Inequality in the HDI is largest in poorer countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. We also Þnd large inequalities within countries between population subgroups, particularly by income, location, and education of the household head. We also Þnd considerable inequality when looking at inequality measures like the Theil or the Gini coefficient; within-group inequality is, however, invariably larger than between-group inequality and inequality in the HDI within countries is of similar order of magnitude of inequality in the HDI between countries.
    Keywords: human development index, income inequality, di_erential mortality, inequality in education.
    JEL: O15 C4 C9 I3
    Date: 2010–09
  8. By: Zuleika Ferre (Departamento de Economía. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales. Universidad de la República. Montevideo,Uruguay); Mariana Gerstenblüth (Departamento de Economía. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales. Universidad de la República. Montevideo,Uruguay); Máximo Rossi (Departamento de Economía. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales. Universidad de la República. Montevideo,Uruguay)
    Abstract: En el presente trabajo, con datos de la encuesta nacional de opinión pública Religión, Salud y Emancipación Juvenil del año 2008 (dECON-FCS, Uruguay, ISSP), se estima a través de modelos probit la probabilidad de que un individuo sea feliz haciendo especial hincapié en su relación con la religión a la que pertenece y la frecuencia con la que asiste al templo. Entre los principales hallazgos se encuentra que aquellas personas que declaran profesar la fe protestante son menos felices que el resto. Los que más asisten a servicios religiosos tienen una mayor probabilidad de estar satisfechos con la vida que quienes no lo hacen.
    Keywords: felicidad, religión, Uruguay
    JEL: D01 D60 Z12
    Date: 2010–09–01
  9. By: Kris Inwood (Department of Economics,University of Guelph); Evan Roberts (Department of History, University of Minnesota.)
    Abstract: This paper reviews recent literature using stature and weight as measures of human welfare with a particular interest in cliometric or historical research. We begin with an overview of anthropometric evidence of living standards and the new but fast-growing field of anthropometric history. This literature is always implicitly and often explicitly longitudinal in nature. We then discuss (i) systematic empirical research into the relationship between conditions in early life and later life health and mortality and (ii) historical evidence on the relationship between body mass, morbidity and mortality. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of historical sources and understandings to health economics and population health.
    Keywords: Anthropometric history; Biological standard of living; Height; Obesity; Physical stature; Well-being
    JEL: I12 J11 N30 N31 N32 N33 O15
    Date: 2010
  10. By: Martin Binder (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group, Jena); Tom Broekel (Department of Economic Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University)
    Abstract: In Amartya Sen's capability approach, policy makers can focus on different levels to influence the well-being of a society. We argue that improving capability to function as well as absolute levels of functioning achievement should be complemented by attention given to improving individuals' "conversion efficiency", i.e. the efficiency with which individual resources are converted into well-being. In order to examine effects of policies on conversion efficiency and to better understand the trajectories of human well-being over time, it is necessary to measure the development of conversion efficiency. We suggest an intertemporal index of conversion efficiency estimated via a nonparametric order-m approach borrowed from the production efficiency literature to analyze this development of our welfare measure. We exemplify this approach using micro level data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), tracking conversion efficiency for a set of basic functionings in Great Britain from 1991 to 2006. We find that under 30% of the British populace were efficient in their conversion of resources into functionings during the sample horizon. Moreover, age, education and self-employment increase an individual's conversion efficiency, while living in London, being disabled and being separated, divorced or widowed all decrease conversion efficiency. Being married also decreases the conversion efficiency and we find few evidence of gender disparities in conversion efficiency.
    Keywords: capability approach, conversion efficiency, efficiency analysis, intertemporal development
    JEL: I12 I31 D60
    Date: 2010–09–27
  11. By: Watson, Dorothy
    Keywords: europe
    Date: 2010–07

This nep-hap issue is ©2010 by Viviana Di Giovinazzo. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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.