New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2011‒06‒04
five papers chosen by

  1. Eudaimonia and the Economics of Happiness By Santiago Melo
  2. The contribution of sport to national pride and well-being: An international perspective By Paul Downward; Tim Pawlowski; Simona Rasciute
  3. The Macroeconomy and Individuals’ Support for Democracy By Friedrichsen, J.; Zahn, P.
  4. Job satisfaction in Italy: individual characteristics and social relations By Fiorillo, Damiano; Nappo, Nunzia
  5. Working Hours and Satisfaction: A comparative analysis of Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany (Japanese) By ASANO Hirokatsu; KENJOH Eiko

  1. By: Santiago Melo
    Abstract: In this paper I discuss the major approaches to happiness in the economics of happiness: hedonism and life-satisfaction approaches. It is possible to identify a tension between two important principles in this literature: 1) individuals are the best judges of their own happiness, and 2) the purpose of economics should be the direct endorsement of happiness. I argue that hedonism conflicts with the first principle. In the case of life-satisfaction theories, the restricted approach conflicts with both principles while the unrestricted approach only with the second. I also argue that the field presents difficulties establishing happiness as a consistent normative concept. In order to show this, I return to the theories of Aristotle and Seneca because: 1) both the ancients and these economists consider happiness as the overarching good; 2) even though these economists recognize the importance of eudaimonistic theories, their interpretation and use has not been satisfactory; 3) the debate between Aristotle and Seneca has implications both on the quantitative character of happiness and on the role of public policy regarding its promotion. The main lesson of the ancients is methodological: what made the discussion so rich among them was their awareness that happiness was principally a normative concept whose content had to adjust in order to meet its normative demands; a point contemporary literature seems to have missed.
    Date: 2011–02–13
  2. By: Paul Downward (Loughborough University); Tim Pawlowski (German Sport University Cologne); Simona Rasciute (Loughborough University)
    Abstract: As well as being a growing academic literature, SWB is now firmly on the public policy agenda. Likewise, the sports industry is viewed as being of growing economic significance, reflected in its promotion in public policy. This paper explores the impact of engagement with sports on individual subjective well-being (SWB) for a sample of 34 countries. Engagement with sports is defined to include formal and informal participation, as well as attendance at sports events. It is hypothesized that one dimension of SWB associated with sports by individuals in a country is the pride felt by them as a result of international sports success. To provide a robust account of the determinants of these dimensions of SWB a variety of estimators are employed that also account for any feedback between them. Account is also taken of different country level effects on the impacts. Controlling for standard covariates associated with SWB the results suggest that all forms of sports engagement enhance SWB. However, it is suggested that there is also an indirect impact of pride felt from international sporting success on SWB. Crucially, these effects are, in part, determined by formal participation in sport, or attendance at sport events but not informal participation. Further, there is some evidence that pride has a strong country-level dimension. A further interesting policy dilemma raised by the research is that passive engagement at sports is more likely to raise SWB.
    Keywords: Well-being, National Pride, Sport, Ordered Probit models, Random Effects, Fixed Effects
    JEL: D60 I31 L83
    Date: 2011–05
  3. By: Friedrichsen, J.; Zahn, P.
    Abstract: How important are national macroeconomic indicators for people’s satisfaction with democracy? This paper empirically explores the link from macroeconomic variables to support for established democratic systems. We combine country-level data on growth, inflation, and unemployment from the OECD with survey data from the Eurobarometer for nineWestern European countries for the period 1976-2001. We regress individual satisfaction with democracy on macroeconomic variables and individual controls. Our regressions include country-specific time trends as well as fixed effects for countries and surveyyears. Pooling observations from nine countries, we find that growth (inflation and unemployment) is positively (negatively) correlated with satisfaction with democracy. The effect goes beyond what can be explained by individual characteristics and is non-negligible if interpreted in light of the recent economic crisis. Our findings are robust to alternative specifications using logit and ordered logit models.
    Keywords: Satisfaction with democracy, Economic Growth, Political Economy
    JEL: H11 O42 P16
    Date: 2011–01–26
  4. By: Fiorillo, Damiano; Nappo, Nunzia
    Abstract: This paper investigates the determinants of job satisfaction in Italy with particular emphasis on social relations. Our econometric analysis is based on four waves (1993, 1995, 1998 and 2000) of the Multipurpose Household Survey conducted annually by the Italian Central Statistics Office. The results of ordered probit regressions and robustness tests show that volunteering and meetings with friends are significantly and positively correlated with job satisfaction, with religious participation playing the biggest role. Our findings also show that meetings with friends increase job satisfaction through self-perceived health.
    Keywords: Job satisfaction; social relations; social capital; health; statistical matching; Italy
    JEL: J28 C31 Z13
    Date: 2011–05–26
  5. By: ASANO Hirokatsu; KENJOH Eiko
    Abstract: We investigate the relationship between working hours and working-hour satisfaction and that between working hours and life satisfaction for white-collar permanent employees in Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany. We use data obtained from the <i>International Survey on Work-Life Balance</i>, which was conducted by the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) and the Economic and Social Research Institute, Cabinet Office (ESRI) in Japan. The survey shows that Japan has the highest proportion of workers with long weekly working hours. Also, the unconditional average of both working-hour satisfaction and life satisfaction in Japan is lower than that of the UK, and Germany.<br /><br />We estimate ordered probit models with working-hour satisfaction and life satisfaction as dependent variables. Estimation results show that with other things being equal, working-hour satisfaction decreases as weekly working hours increase in all three countries. Results for life satisfaction reveal similar patterns, although the impact of weekly working hours is smaller than in the case of working-hour satisfaction.<br /><br />We also calculate predictions on the basis of our estimation results in which we control for personal, occupational and other characteristics. The prediction results show that the conditional average of working-hour satisfaction and life satisfaction is not necessarily lower in Japan than in the UK or Germany, unlike what the unconditional results suggest. Phrased differently, working-hour satisfaction and life satisfaction for Japanese workers is not below the satisfaction levels of British and German workers that have the same characteristics. This difference in the conditional and unconditional results can be attributed to the fact that many more Japanese workers have characteristics that are connected with lower satisfaction levels. Our results thus suggest that it would be possible to increase working-hour satisfaction and life satisfaction in Japan if the institutional factors that currently bring people lower satisfaction can be altered. For instance, additional flexibility geared towards bringing actual working hours closer to desired working hours could prove worthwhile in increasing satisfaction levels.
    Date: 2011–03

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