nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2010‒10‒23
six papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Subjective Well-Being, Income, Economic Development and Growth By Sacks, Daniel W.; Stevenson, Betsey; Wolfers, Justin
  2. Family formation and subjective well-being.A literature overview. By Anna Baranowska
  3. Condiciones para el fomento de la felicidad pública By Domingo Gallego
  4. Using capabilities as an alternative indicator for well-being By L. VAN OOTEGEM; E. VERHOFSTADT
  5. Fathers’ Involvement and Fathers’ Well-being over Children’s First Five Years By Marcia J. Carlson; Kimberly J. Turner
  6. Family Structure Transitions and Changes in Maternal Resources and Well-Being By Cynthia Osborne; Lawrence Berger; Katherine Magnuson

  1. By: Sacks, Daniel W. (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania); Stevenson, Betsey (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania); Wolfers, Justin (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: We explore the relationships between subjective well-being and income, as seen across individuals within a given country, between countries in a given year, and as a country grows through time. We show that richer individuals in a given country are more satisfied with their lives than are poorer individuals, and establish that this relationship is similar in most countries around the world. Turning to the relationship between countries, we show that average life satisfaction is higher in countries with greater GDP per capita. The magnitude of the satisfaction-income gradient is roughly the same whether we compare individuals or countries, suggesting that absolute income plays an important role in influencing well-being. Finally, studying changes in satisfaction over time, we find that as countries experience economic growth, their citizens' life satisfaction typically grows, and that those countries experiencing more rapid economic growth also tend to experience more rapid growth in life satisfaction. These results together suggest that measured subjective well-being grows hand in hand with material living standards.
    Keywords: subjective well-being, life satisfaction, quality of life, economic growth, development, Easterlin Paradox, well-being-income gradient, hedonic treadmill
    JEL: O11 I31 I32
    Date: 2010–10
  2. By: Anna Baranowska (Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.)
    Abstract: This paper aims to provide an overview of the leading theoretical concepts and the available empirical evidence on family formation and subjective well-being. It identifies the issues which could be investigated in more detail, possibly with refined methodological approaches. An additional objective of the paper is to suggest how research in this field could contribute to the debate on population policy.
    Keywords: happiness, subjective well-being, family formation
    JEL: J12 J13
    Date: 2010
  3. By: Domingo Gallego (Departamento de Estructura e Historia Económica y Economía Pública. Universidad de Zaragoza (España))
    Abstract: This paper is based on the hypothesis that to feel individually and collectively respected is vital to private and public happiness because, as well as the sensation of comfort that it produces, respect creates a favorable context both for the acquisition of capabilities and for the opportunity to exercise them. All this may be positive for individuals, for those closest to them, for society as a whole and, even, for future societies. The objective of this paper is to identify the conditions that favor this result. Its main proposition is that respect comes from the capacity to make others respect one, so the paper focuses on the analysis of the circumstances that favor this capacity.
    Keywords: Economic development, institutional economy, public economy, evolutionary economics, collective action, social values, public ethics and morality
    JEL: B52 D71 I30 O10
    Date: 2010–10
    Abstract: Direct measurement of capabilities is scarce, mainly because questions arise concerning their observability. This paper lines up with the kind of ‘primary data’ base research as it is pioneered in Anand & Van Hees (2006) and Anand et al (2009) and shows the potential of information on subjective capabilities as indicator and aggregator for well-being.<br> We develop a questionnaire which consistently makes the distinction between functionings and capabilities on the one hand, and between the measurement and valuation of these functionings and capabilities on the other hand. We survey a population of 18 year old first year Bachelor students in applied economics and business studies. We show that capabilities can be subjectively measured. The data confirm the theoretical hypothesis that the set of capabilities is larger than the achieved functionings. Information on capabilities can be a suitable “object of valuation” for wellbeing research. To some extent, the explanatory variables behind the capabilities interpretation of well-being (eg. the role of the parents especially when they are divorced) are more relevant for policy compared to the variables influencing satisfaction with life (eg. not being single), because they are more beyond the control of the individual.
    Date: 2010–09
  5. By: Marcia J. Carlson (University of Wisconsin); Kimberly J. Turner (University of Wisconsin)
    Abstract: Despite the growing scholarly attention to fathers’ roles in family life, the consequences of fathers’ involvement with children for men’s well-being have been little explored. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=3,880), we evaluate how fathers’ involvement (time, engagement and responsibility) is linked to fathers’ well-being with respect to health and mental health, social integration, and economic outcomes. We evaluate resident and non-resident fathers separately, using data from three survey waves about 1, 3 and 5 years after a baby’s birth. Our results indicate that fathers’ involvement is not strongly related to paternal health and mental health, but greater involvement is linked with better relationship quality with the child’s biological mother for both resident and nonresident fathers. With respect to economic outcomes, there is modest evidence that greater involvement is linked to lower earnings for resident fathers and to higher earnings for non-resident fathers.
    Keywords: Father involvement, fragile families, longitudinal data, well-being
    JEL: I00 I32 J12 J13 J16
    Date: 2010–09
  6. By: Cynthia Osborne (University of Texas); Lawrence Berger (University of Wisconsin); Katherine Magnuson (University of Wisconsin)
    Abstract: This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study to examine whether family instability is associated with changes in perceived social support, material hardship, maternal depression, and parenting stress among mothers of young children. In addition to accounting for the number of transitions a mother experiences over the first five years of her child’s life, we pay close attention to the type and timing of these transitions. We find that mothers who transition to cohabitation or marriage with their child’s biological father experience declines in material hardship and that those who transition to cohabitation or marriage with another man exhibit modest declines in both material hardship and depression. Mothers who exit cohabiting or marital relationships encounter decreases in perceived social support and increases in material hardship, depression, and parenting stress. Overall, our results suggest that both the type and, to a much lesser degree, the timing of family structure transitions may influence maternal well-being.
    Keywords: material hardship, motherhood, depression, social support, stress, family structure, Father involvement, fragile families, longitudinal data, well-being
    JEL: I00 I32 J12 J13 J16
    Date: 2010–09

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