New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2011‒07‒13
eight papers chosen by

  1. Assessing wellbeing and deprivation in later life: A multidimensional counting approach By Armando Barrientos; Casilda Lasso de la Vega
  2. Capabilities and Choices: Do They Make Sen'se for Understanding Objective and Subjective Well-Being?: An Empirical Test of Sen's Capability Framework on German and British Panel Data By Ruud Muffels; Bruce Headey
  3. Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: the Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being By Marie Connolly Pray
  4. Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction? By Frijters, Paul; Johnston, David W.; Shields, Michael A.
  5. The relationship between happiness and health: evidence from Italy By Sabatini, F;
  6. Job satisfaction in Italy: Individual characteristics and social relations By Fiorillo, D;; Nappo, N;
  7. Happiness Is Absolute, Universal, Ultimate, Unidimensional, Cardinally Measurable and Interpersonally Comparable: A Basis for the Environmentally Responsible Happy Nation Index By Yew-Kwang Ng
  8. Weekends and Subjective Well-Being By John F. Helliwell; Shun Wang

  1. By: Armando Barrientos; Casilda Lasso de la Vega
    Abstract: The paper applies a multidimensional and comparative approach to the assessment of wellbeing and deprivation among a panel of older people in Brazil and South Africa. It develops and justifies a counting approach to rank order wellbeing and deprivation distributions. An application of this approach generates substantive findings on the dynamics of the distribution of wellbeing and deprivation in later life, on stratification, and on the importance of social policy addressing ageing.
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Ruud Muffels; Bruce Headey
    Abstract: In Sen’s Capability Approach (CA) well-being can be defined as the freedom of choice to achieve the things in life which one has reason to value most for his or her personal life. Capabilities are in Sen’s vocabulary therefore the real freedoms people have or the opportunities available to them. In this paper we examine the impact of capabilities alongside choices on subjective and objective well-being. There is a lot of theoretical work on Sen’s capability framework but still a lack of empirical research in measuring and testing his capability model especially in a dynamic perspective. The aim of the paper is to elaborate and test a ‘stock-flow’ model measuring capabilities and choices to explain longer-term changes in well-being using 25 years of German and 18 years of British data. Three measures of well-being are constructed: life satisfaction for subjective well-being (SWB) and relative income and employment security for objective well-being (OWB). We ran random and fixed effects GLS models. The findings strongly support Sen’s capabilities framework and provide new evidence on the way capabilities and choices matter for well-being. Capabilities indicated by human capital, trust, altruism and risk taking, and family, work-leisure, lifestyle and social choices show to strongly affect the three well-being indicators but their effect sizes differ largely dependent on the type of indicator used.
    Keywords: Subjective and objective well-being, happiness, work-leisure choices, income security, employment security, Sen’s capability approach, German and British panel data, fixed effects GLS models
    JEL: D31 D63 I32 J21 J24 J64
    Date: 2011
  3. By: Marie Connolly Pray
    Abstract: More and more economists and politicians are advocating the use of comprehensive measures of well-being, on top of the usual national accounting measures, to assess the welfare of populations. Researchers using subjective well-being data should be aware of the potential biasing effects of the weather on their estimates. In this paper, I investigate the responsiveness of well-being to climate and transitory weather conditions by analyzing subjective well-being data collected in the Princeton Affect and Time Survey. I study general satisfaction questions about life in general, life at home, health and one’s job, as well as questions concerning feelings intensities during specific episodes. I find that women are much more responsive than men to the weather, and that life satisfaction decreases with the amount of rain on the day of the interview. Low temperatures increase happiness and reduce tiredness and stress, raising net affect, and high temperatures reduce happiness, consistent with the fact that the surveys was conducted in the summer. I conclude by suggesting methods to reduce the possible biases.
    Keywords: Subjective well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, weather, temperature, precipitation
    JEL: D6 I3
    Date: 2011
  4. By: Frijters, Paul (University of Queensland); Johnston, David W. (Monash University); Shields, Michael A. (University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: In this paper we address the question of how much of adult life satisfaction is predicted by childhood traits, parental characteristics and family socioeconomic status. Given the current focus of many national governments on measuring population well-being, and renewed focus on effective policy interventions to aid disadvantaged children, we study a cohort of children born in a particular week in 1958 in Britain who have been repeatedly surveyed for 50 years. Importantly, at four points in their adult lives this cohort has been asked about their life satisfaction (at ages 33, 42, 46, and 50). A substantive finding is that characteristics of the child and family at birth predict no more than 1.2% of the variance in average adult life satisfaction. A comprehensive set of child and family characteristics at ages 7, 11 and 16 increases the predictive power to only 2.8%, 4.3% and 6.8%, respectively. We find that the conventional measures of family socioeconomic status, in the form of parental education, occupational class and family income, are not strong predictors of adult life satisfaction. However, we find robust evidence that non-cognitive skills as measured by childhood behavioural-emotional problems, and social maladjustment, are powerful predictors of whether a child grows up to be a satisfied adult. We also find that some aspects of personality are important predictors. Adding contemporaneous adulthood variables for health and socio-economic status increases the predictability of average life satisfaction to 15.6%, while adding long-lags of life satisfaction increases the predictive power to a maximum of 35.5%. Repeating our analyses using data from the 1970 British Cohort Study confirms our main findings. Overall, the results presented in the paper point to average adult life satisfaction not being strongly predictable from a wide-range of childhood and family characteristics by age 16, which implies that there is high equality of opportunity to live a satisfied life, at least for individuals born in Britain in 1958 and 1970.
    Keywords: childhood, socioeconomic status, life satisfaction, non-cognitive, cognitive
    JEL: I1 J1
    Date: 2011–06
  5. By: Sabatini, F;
    Abstract: We test the relationship between happiness and self-rated health in Italy. The analysis relies on a unique dataset collected through the administration of a questionnaire to a representative sample (n = 817) of the population of the Italian Province of Trento in March 2011. Based on probit regressions, instrumental variables estimates and structural equations modelling, we find that happiness is strongly correlated with perceived good health, after controlling for a number of relevant socio-economic phenomena. Health inequalities based on income, work status and education are relatively contained in respect to the rest of Italy. As expected, this scales down the role of social capital.
    Keywords: cooperative enterprises; happiness; health; instrumental variables; Italy; life satisfaction; non-profit; social capital; structural equations modelling.
    JEL: I12 I18 Z1
    Date: 2011–06
  6. By: Fiorillo, D;; Nappo, N;
    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: C31 J28 Z1
    Date: 2011–06
  7. By: Yew-Kwang Ng
    Abstract: Though the various improvements and different measures of many aspects related to well being proposed by the Sarkozy Report will be very useful, an overall national success indicator to supplement/replace the traditional focus on GDP is needed. As an ultimate indicator, it has to be happiness-based. This paper argues that happiness is absolute, universal, ultimate and unidimensional and is also cardinally measurable and interpersonally comparable, though existing indices are largely non-comparable. The happy nation index takes both the average net happiness and average lifespan into account. Since there is the future and there are other nations, a more appropriate national success indicator from a long-term and global perspective is to also take negative account of the external benefits/costs (perhaps starting with greenhouse gases) conferred/imposed on the future and on other nations. An environmentally responsible happy nation index may then be constructed.
    Keywords: Environmentally responsible happy nation index; happiness; interpersonal comparison; measurability; national success indicators.
    Date: 2011–06
  8. By: John F. Helliwell; Shun Wang
    Abstract: This paper exploits the richness and large sample size of the Gallup/Healthways US daily poll to illustrate significant differences in the dynamics of two key measures of subjective well-being: emotions and life evaluations. We find that there is no day-of-week effect for life evaluations, represented here by the Cantril Ladder, but significantly more happiness, enjoyment, and laughter, and significantly less worry, sadness, and anger on weekends (including public holidays) than on weekdays. We then find strong evidence of the importance of the social context, both at work and at home, in explaining the size and likely determinants of the weekend effects for emotions. Weekend effects are twice as large for full-time paid workers as for the rest of the population, and are much smaller for those whose work supervisor is considered a partner rather than a boss and who report trustable and open work environments. A large portion of the weekend effects is explained by differences in the amount of time spent with friends or family between weekends and weekdays (7.1 vs. 5.4 hours). The extra daily social time of 1.7 hours in weekends raises average happiness by about 2%.
    JEL: D69 J28 J81 Z19
    Date: 2011–06

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