New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2010‒10‒30
fourteen papers chosen by

  1. Suicide in Ireland: The Influence of Alcohol and Unemployment By Brendan Walsh; Dermot Walsh
  2. Height and well-being amongst older Europeans By Kevin Denny
  3. Relative Income, Redistribution and Well-being By FitzRoy, Felix; Nolan, Michael A.
  4. Relationship quality in Europe By Kenneth Aarskaug Wiik, Trude Lappegård, and Renske Keizer
  5. The Role of Family in Suicide Rate in Italy By Claudio Detotto; V. Sterzi
  6. Slavery, Education, and Inequality By Graziella Bertocchi; Arcangelo Dimico
  7. Decomposing Income Inequality in The Arab Region By Sami Bibi; AbdelRahmen El-Lahga
  8. Mesure de l'influence des facteurs socioéconomiques sur l'obésité : regards croisés des modèles logistiques et quantiles By TCHICAYA Anastase; DIA Modou
  9. Accelerating Economic Growth and Reducing Poverty: The Road Ahead By Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan,
  10. Are Inequality and Trade Liberalization Influences on Growth and Poverty? By Jennifer Mbabazi; Chris Milner; Oliver Morrissey
  11. Pension rights, human capital development and well-being. By Montizaan, Raymond Michel
  12. Culture, participative decision making and job satisfaction By De Wet van der Westhuizen; Gail Pacheco; Don J. Webber
  13. Women's Autonomy and Subjective Well-Being in India: How Village Norms Shape the Impact of Self-Help Groups By De Hoop, Thomas; Van Kempen, Luuk; Linssen, Rik; Van Eerdewijk, Anouka
  14. Do People Seek to Maximize Happiness? Evidence from New Surveys By Daniel J. Benjamin; Ori Heffetz; Miles S. Kimball; Alex Rees-Jones

  1. By: Brendan Walsh (University College Dublin); Dermot Walsh (Mental Health Commission)
    Abstract: In this paper we model the behaviour of the Irish suicide rate over the period 1968-2009 using the unemployment rate and the level of alcohol consumption as explanatory variables. It is found that these variables have significant positive effects on suicide mortality in several demographic groups. Alcohol consumption is a significant influence on the male suicide rate up to age 64. Its influence on the female suicide rate is not as well-established, although there is evidence that it is important in the 15-24 and 25-34 age groups. The unemployment rate is also a significant influence on the male suicide rate in the younger age groups. The behaviour of suicide rates among males aged 55 and over and females aged 25 and over is largely unaccounted for by our model. These broad conclusions hold when account is taken of a structural break in the 1980s, with the response to unemployment being greater in the earlier period and that to alcohol greater in the later period. The findings suggest that higher alcohol consumption played a major role in the increase in suicide mortality among young Irish males between the late 1960s and the end of the century. In the early twenty first century a combination of falling alcohol consumption and low unemployment led to a marked reduction in suicide rates, although there is some evidence that the suicide rate is being increasingly under-reported in recent years. The recent rise in the suicide rate may be attributed to the sharp increase in unemployment, especially among males, but it has been moderated by the continuing fall in alcohol consumption. Some policy implications of the findings are discussed.
    Keywords: Suicide, Alcohol, Unemployment, Lederman Hypothesis
    Date: 2010–10–21
  2. By: Kevin Denny (University College Dublin)
    Abstract: This paper uses a cross-country representative sample of Europeans over the age of 50 to analyse whether individuals’ height is associated with higher or lower levels of well-being. Two outcomes are used: a measure of depression symptoms reported by individuals and a categorical measure of life satisfaction. It is shown that there is a concave relationship between height and symptoms of depression. These results are sensitive to the inclusion of several sets of controls reflecting demographics, human capital and health status. While parsimonious models suggest that height is protective against depression, the addition of controls, particularly related to health, suggests the reverse effect: tall people are predicted to have slightly more symptoms of depression. Height has no significant association with life satisfaction in models with controls for health and human capital.
    Keywords: height, depression, well-being, life satisfaction, health
    Date: 2010–10–22
  3. By: FitzRoy, Felix (University of St. Andrews); Nolan, Michael A. (University of Hull)
    Abstract: In a model with heterogeneous workers and both intensive and extensive margins of employment, we consider two systems of redistribution: a universal basic income, and a categorical unemployment benefit. Well-being depends on own-consumption relative to average employed workers’ consumption, and concern for relativity is a parameter that affects model outcomes. While labour supply incurs positive marginal disutility, we allow negative welfare effects of unemployment. We also compare Rawlsian and utilitarian welfare in general equilibrium under the polar opposite transfer systems, with varying concern for relativity. Basic income Pareto dominates categorical benefits with moderate concern for relativity in both cases.
    Keywords: relative income, redistribution, basic income, unemployment benefits, happiness, well-being
    JEL: H20 D40
    Date: 2010–10
  4. By: Kenneth Aarskaug Wiik, Trude Lappegård, and Renske Keizer (Statistics Norway)
    Abstract: In this study, we utilize data from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Surveys to investigate relationship quality among currently married and cohabiting individuals aged 18 to 55 (N = 41, 666) in eight European countries (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Romania, Russia, and the Netherlands). Controlling for a range of characteristics of respondents and their partners, the analyses show that cohabitors in general more often have breakup plans and are less satisfied than those married. We expected to find fewer differences between cohabitation and marriage in countries where cohabitation is widespread. Correspondingly, we find that the difference between marriage and cohabitation is largest in Russia, Romania, Germany and Bulgaria.
    Keywords: Marriage; Cohabitation; Relationship Quality; Europe
    JEL: Z10 Z13 Z19
    Date: 2010–10
  5. By: Claudio Detotto; V. Sterzi
    Abstract: We use national panel data at provincial level to investigate the relationship between suicide rates and socio-economic factors in Italy. The role of family, drug and alcohol consumption, social conformism and population density are the main factors in explaining the suicide rate in Italy. In a further step, we check for the differences in the suicide determinants between southern and northern provinces. The findings show that the number and size of families as well as alcohol or drug abuse play a key role in the northern provinces, while density and social conformism appear to be the main factors in the South.
    Keywords: suicide rate; socio-economic determinants; role of family
    JEL: D10 K00 R00
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Graziella Bertocchi; Arcangelo Dimico
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of slavery on the current performances of the US economy. Over a cross section of counties, we find that the legacy of slavery does not affect current income per capita, but does affect current income inequality. In other words, those counties that displayed a higher proportion of slaves are currently not poorer, but more unequal. Moreover, we find that the impact of slavery on current income inequality is determined by racial inequality. We test three alternative channels of transmission between slavery and inequality: a land inequality theory, a racial discrimination theory and a human capital theory. We find support for the third theory, i. e., even after controlling for potential endogeneity, current inequality is primarily influenced by slavery through the unequal educational attainment of blacks and whites. To improve our understanding of the dynamics of racial inequality along the educational dimension, we complete our investigation by analyzing a panel dataset covering the 1940-2000 period at the state level. Consistently with our previous findings, we find that the educational racial gap significantly depends on the initial gap, which was indeed larger in the former slave states.
    Keywords: Slavery, development; inequality; institutions; education
    JEL: D02 H52 J15 O11
    Date: 2010–10
  7. By: Sami Bibi (University of Laval); AbdelRahmen El-Lahga
    Abstract: The main objective of this paper is to perform a decomposition analysis of the level of inequality between socioeconomic groups and geopolitical regions of each country to better our understanding of the contribution of each socioeconomic group to overall inequality. This paper will fill in an important gap of knowledge of inequality patterns in the Arab region, by drawing a rough picture of monetary inequality. Our results show that differences in mean income across groups are much larger in Tunisia, Morocco and mainly Yemen and accounts for a much larger proportion of overall inequality.
    Date: 2010–10
  8. By: TCHICAYA Anastase; DIA Modou
    Keywords: Obésité; Facteurs socioéconomiques; Modèles logistique généralisé et quantile; Luxembourg
    JEL: I11 I18
    Date: 2010–10
  9. By: Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan,
    Abstract: It outlines the broad framework and the strategy for poverty reduction based on four pillars: (a) accelerating economic growth while maintaining the macroeconomic stability; (b) improving the governance; (c) investing in human capital; and (d) targeting the poor and the vulnerable. The PRSP also highlights the programs and policies of the Government under each of these pillars and proposed indicators to monitor the outcome of these policies as well as intermediate indicators for social sectors.
    Keywords: poor, vulnerable, livestock, fisheries, law, statistics, poverty, pakistan, governance, economic growth, social sectors,
    Date: 2010
  10. By: Jennifer Mbabazi; Chris Milner; Oliver Morrissey
    Abstract: There has been a recent resurgence of interest in the relationship between income inequality and growth, manifested in a number of important publications. In parallel with this, concern with the impact of economic reform and globalization on developing countries has led to an upsurge of interest in linkages between policy reform, growth, inequality and poverty. They use the WIDER/UNDP World Income Inequality Database to investigate the links between growth, inequality and trade liberalization for a sample of developing countries, and the more limited World Bank Global Poverty Monitoring Database for an exploratory analysis of the influence of these variables on levels of poverty. The cross-section results suggest that in the long-run, higher inequality is associated with lower growth. [DiscussionPaperNo.2001/132]
    Keywords: trade,inequality,growth,poverty,developingcountries
    Date: 2010
  11. By: Montizaan, Raymond Michel (Maastricht University)
    Date: 2010
  12. By: De Wet van der Westhuizen (Department of Economics, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.); Gail Pacheco (Department of Economics, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.); Don J. Webber (Department of Economics, Auckland University of Technology and Department of Economics, UWE, Bristol)
    Abstract: This study explores the impact of culture on participative decision making (PDM) and job satisfaction (JS) using data obtained from the European Values Study. We parameterise two different cultural variables using principal components analysis: first a continuum based on survival versus self-expression values, and second a continuum based on traditional versus secular-rational values. Application of ordered logistic regression to Likert scales of PDM and JS suggest that greater self-expression in the survival versus self-expression variable enhances both PDM and JS; more traditional values in the traditional versus secular-rational continuum have the same effect.
    Keywords: Job satisfaction; participatory decision making; culture
    JEL: J28
    Date: 2010–10
  13. By: De Hoop, Thomas; Van Kempen, Luuk; Linssen, Rik; Van Eerdewijk, Anouka
    Abstract: This paper presents quasi-experimental impact estimates of women self-help groups on subjective well-being in Orissa, India. We find that, on average, self-help group membership does not affect subjective well-being. However, our results at the same time reveal that subjective well-being sharply declines for those members whose newly gained autonomy meets with relatively conservative social gender norms among non-members. We interpret this finding as evidence for heterogeneous losses of feelings of identity for self-help group members. Identity losses loom larger when women’s enhanced autonomy implies a stronger violation of social gender norms at the community level. Social sanctioning mechanisms play an important role in the heterogeneous negative impact on subjective well-being, as evidenced by qualitative accounts of women’s empowerment trajectories in the research area.
    Keywords: Autonomy; Subjective Well-Being; Impact Evaluation; Identity; Sanctioning; India
    JEL: I31 I38 Z13 O12
    Date: 2010–10–13
  14. By: Daniel J. Benjamin; Ori Heffetz; Miles S. Kimball; Alex Rees-Jones
    Abstract: Are subjective well-being (SWB) measures a good empirical proxy for utility? We evaluate one necessary assumption: that people’s preferences coincide with what they predict will maximize their SWB. Our method is to present survey respondents with hypothetical scenarios and elicit both choice and predicted SWB rankings of two alternatives. While choice and predicted SWB rankings usually coincide, we find systematic reversals. Furthermore, we identify factors—such as predicted sense of purpose, control over one’s life, family happiness, and social status—that help explain choice controlling for predicted SWB. We explore how our findings vary with the SWB measure and the choice situation.
    JEL: D60
    Date: 2010–10

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