nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2010‒11‒20
seven papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. The Metrics of Human Rights: Complementarities of the Human Development and Capabilities Approach By Sakiko Fukuda-Parr
  2. Inter-ethnic Marriage and Partner Satisfaction By Mathias Sinning; Shane Worner
  3. Living Standard and Economic Growth: A Fresh Look at the Relationship Through The Nonparametric Approach By Indrani Chakraborty
  4. The happiness - suicide paradox By Mary C. Daly; Andrew J. Oswald; Daniel Wilson; Stephen Wu
  5. Wage Effects from Changes in Local Human Capital in Britain By Ioannis Kaplanis
  6. Growth, Poverty and Inequality: From Washington Consensus to Inclusive Growth By Alfredo Saad-Filho
  7. Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction By Card, David; Mas, Alexandre; Moretti, Enrico; Saez, Emmanuel

  1. By: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (The New School)
    Abstract: Capabilities and human rights are closely related and share common commitments to freedom and justice as central political objectives. Much of the literature on this relationship has focused on defining the overlaps and differences between them as theoretical concepts. This paper explores a different aspect of the relationship, namely the overlaps and differences in their respective measurement approaches. The paper argues that human development indicators that are used to evaluate policies for capability expansion, or human development, cannot substitute for human rights indicators because of the differences in them as concepts as well as the way that these concepts are used and applied. Human rights indicators are used to assess the accountability of the state in complying with the obligations that are codified in international and domestic law. However, the literature of development economics and the methods of empirical analysis and aggregative summary measurements extensively used in the human development and capabilities (HD/C) approach can overcome some of the constraints of conventional methods used in human rights assessments. These possibilities are illustrated in the Economic and Social Rights Fulfillment Index, recently developed by Fukuda-Parr, Lawson-Remer and Randolph that conceptualizes an empirical model of ‘progressive realization’ and provides an empirical basis for setting benchmarks.
    Keywords: apability approach, human development, Sen, Nussbaum, human rights indicators, rights based approach to development, progressive realisation
    Date: 2010–11
  2. By: Mathias Sinning; Shane Worner
    Abstract: This paper investigates immigrant assortative mating and relationship satisfaction. Using a modified random effects ordered probit model, the paper demonstrates that spouses of mixed couples are significantly less satisfied with their partner than native-only and foreign-only couples.
    Keywords: International migration; assortative mating; partner satisfaction
    JEL: F22 I31
    Date: 2010–11
  3. By: Indrani Chakraborty
    Abstract: The relative role of economic growth vis-a-vis public action in raising living standards in developing countries has been a point of contention for quite some time now. The arguments on both sides are usually based on some estimated relationship between indicators of living standard and other variables. A critical review of the existing studies throws up some methodological issues among which misspecification of the model is most crucial. An alternative approach, viz. the nonparametric regression method, has been shown to be superior in taking care of this problem. Analysing the data for 88 developing countries we note that per capita income has positive significant effect on the life-expectancy at birth. However, we have not observed any relationship between the improvement in life-expectancy and change in income as well as the level of income, unlike some earlier studies. This study has the implication that well-targeted public policies may be successful in improving the standard of living in poor economies in the short-term. But for sustainability in the long-term, growth-based strategies are necessary. [Working Paper No. 283]
    Keywords: standard of living, model specification, nonparametric regression, public action vs. public expenditure
    Date: 2010
  4. By: Mary C. Daly; Andrew J. Oswald; Daniel Wilson; Stephen Wu
    Abstract: Suicide is an important scientific phenomenon. Yet its causes remain poorly understood. This study documents a paradox: the happiest places have the highest suicide rates. The study combines findings from two large and rich individual-level data sets—one on life satisfaction and another on suicide deaths—to establish the paradox in a consistent way across U.S. states. It replicates the finding in data on Western industrialized nations and checks that the paradox is not an artifact of population composition or confounding factors. The study concludes with the conjecture that people may find it particularly painful to be unhappy in a happy place, so that the decision to commit suicide is influenced by relative comparisons.
    Keywords: Happiness ; Suicide
    Date: 2010
  5. By: Ioannis Kaplanis
    Abstract: This paper examines the wage effects arising from changing local human capital in the labourmarket areas of Britain. Employing wage regressions, it is found that individuals' wages arepositively associated with changes in the employment shares of high-paid occupation workersin the British travel-to-work-areas for the late 1990s. I examine this positive association fordifferent occupational groups (defined by pay) in order to disentangle between productionfunction and consumer demand driven theoretical justifications. The former refer toproduction complementarities or wider productivity spillovers arising in areas with highshares of high-skill workers. According to the latter, the presence of a high income workforcein the economy boosts the demand for consumer services leading to an increase in low-pay,service related employment. As these services are non-traded, the increased demand for locallow-paid services should be reflected in a wage premium for the relevant low-paidoccupation employees in the areas with larger shares of high-paid workers. The wage impactis found to be stronger and significant for the bottom occupational quintile compared to themiddle-occupational quintiles and using also sectoral controls the paper argues to providesome preliminary evidence for the existence of consumer demand effects. The empiricalinvestigation addresses potential sources of biases controlling for time invariant unobservedarea-specific characteristics and unobserved individual characteristics. Nevertheless, thepaper points to a number of caveats of the analysis that warrant future research.
    Keywords: local labour markets, wages, consumer demand, human capital externalities
    JEL: J21 J24 J31 R23
    Date: 2010–01
  6. By: Alfredo Saad-Filho
    Abstract: This paper reviews recent economic policy debates about the relationship between growth, poverty and inequality. These debates have tended to focus on whether market-led growth is sufficient to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, or whether specific policies are necessary because untargeted growth may be insufficient or even perverse. The paper charts the degenerating outcomes of these debates, and the emergence of the inclusive growth (IG) paradigm within the World Bank. A critical examination of IG suggests that its weaknesses are best addressed through a more ambitious restatement of the pro-poor goals of economic policy.
    Keywords: Macroeconomic policy, pro-poor policies, inclusive growth, World Bank, Washington Consensus
    JEL: E60 E64 O23
    Date: 2010–11
  7. By: Card, David; Mas, Alexandre; Moretti, Enrico; Saez, Emmanuel
    Abstract: Economists have long speculated that individuals care about both their absolute income and their income relative to others. We use a simple theoretical framework and a randomized manipulation of access to information on peers' wages to provide new evidence on the effects of relative pay on individual utility. A randomly chosen subset of employees of the University of California was informed about a new website listing the pay of all University employees. All employees were then surveyed about their job satisfaction and job search intentions. Our information treatment doubles the fraction of employees using the website, with the vast majority of new users accessing data on the pay of colleagues in their own department. We find an asymmetric response to the information treatment: workers with salaries below the median for their pay unit and occupation report lower pay and job satisfaction, while those earning above the median report no higher satisfaction. Likewise, below-median earners report a significant increase in the likelihood of looking for a new job, while above-median earners are unaffected. Our findings indicate that utility depends directly on relative pay comparisons, and that this relationship is non-linear.
    Date: 2010–09–01

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