nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2011‒10‒01
two papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. The Financial Crisis and the Well-Being of Americans By Angus S. Deaton
  2. Identifying Childhood Deprivation: How Well do National Indicators of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Ireland Perform? By Christopher T. Whelan; Bertrand Maitre

  1. By: Angus S. Deaton
    Abstract: The Great Recession was associated with large changes in income, wealth, and unemployment, changes that affected many lives. Since January 2008, the Gallup Organization has been collecting daily data on 1,000 Americans each day, with a range of self-reported well-being (SWB) questions. I use these data to examine how the recession affected the emotional and evaluative lives of the population, as well as of subgroups within it. In the fall of 2008, around the time of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and lasting into the spring of 2009, at the bottom of the stock market, Americans reported sharp declines in their life evaluation, sharp increases in worry and stress, and declines in positive affect. By the end of 2010, in spite of continuing high unemployment, these measures had largely recovered, though worry remained higher and life evaluation lower than in January 2008. The SWB measures do a much better job of monitoring short-run levels of anxiety as the crisis unfolded than they do of reflecting the evolution of the economy over a year or two. Even large macroeconomic shocks to income and unemployment can be expected to produce only small and hard to detect effects on SWB measures. SWB, particularly evaluation of life as a whole, is sensitive to question order effects. Asking political questions before the life evaluation question reduces reported life evaluation by an amount that dwarfs the effects of even the worst of the crisis; these order effects persist deep into the interview, and condition the reporting of hedonic experience and of satisfaction with standard of living. Methods for controlling these effects need to be developed and tested if national measures are to be comparable over space and time.
    JEL: E01 E32 H0 I31
    Date: 2011–09
  2. By: Christopher T. Whelan (School of Sociology and Geary Institute, University College Dublin); Bertrand Maitre (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)
    Abstract: In light of widespread agreement that poverty and social exclusion should be understood as multidimensional phenomenon, in this paper we explore the practical implications of such an understanding in relation to widely employed indicators of such phenomena in Ireland. One persistent critique of the current national measures of poverty and social exclusion comes from those who feel that the findings they produce are inaccurate in relation to particular stages of the life-course. To date the critiques in the Irish case have been accompanied by relatively little in the way of systematic research documenting the alleged limitations of national measures. In this paper we have taken advantage of the inclusion of a special module on childhood deprivation in EU-SILC 2009 to explore such issues in more depth. Our analysis reveals that, to the extent that national measures fail to identify childhood deprivation, this is largely a consequence of limitations in capturing wider command over economic resources and distinctive risk profiles in relation to exposure to deprivation and economic stress. Overall our analysis leads us to the conclusion that those exposed to childhood deprivation are generally a sub-set of the children captured by national indicators. Adopting a multidimensional and dynamic perspective on household resources and deprivation enables us to capture the large majority of children exposed to childhood deprivation. Conversely restricting our attention to childhood deprivation would lead us to miss out on larger numbers of children living in households experiencing basic deprivation. The national measures of poverty and social exclusion that have been employed in the Irish case are largely successful in capturing childhood deprivation.
    Date: 2011–09–19

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