nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2011‒11‒28
seven papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. The Weight of Success: The Body Mass Index and Economic Well-being in South Africa By Martin Wittenberg
  2. Work to Live or Live to Work? Unemployment, Happiness, and Culture By Krause, Annabelle
  3. Childhood adversity and adulthood happiness: Evidence from Japan By Oshio, Takashi; Umeda, Maki; Kawakami, Norito
  4. Regional unemployment and norm-induced effects on life satisfaction By Chadi, Adrian
  5. The relationship between homeownership and life satisfaction in Germany By Zumbro, Timo
  6. Land, Poverty and Human Development in Kenya By Mwangi wa Githinji
  7. Social Interactions and Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Latin America. By Victoria Ateca-Amestoy; Alexandra Cortés Aguilar; Ana I. Moro-Egido

  1. By: Martin Wittenberg (DataFirst, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)
    Abstract: We show that body mass increases with economics resources among most South Africans, although not all. Among Black South Africans the relationship is non-decreasing over virtually the entire range of incomes/wealth. Furthermore in this groupd other measures of success (e.g. employment and education) are also associated with increases in body mass. This is true both in 1998 (the Demographic and Health Survey) and 2008 (National Income Dynamics Survey). This suggests the body mass can be used as a crude measure of wellbeing. Used in this way it suggests that unemployment is involuntary. This is true even if we control for household fixed effects. This is joint SALDRU/DataFirst Working Paper as part of the Mellon Data Quality Project.
    Keywords: obesity, asset index, body mass index
    JEL: D31 I19 I32
    Date: 2011–09
  2. By: Krause, Annabelle (IZA)
    Abstract: Happiness drops when individuals become unemployed. The negative impact of the unemployment shock, however, may differ by cultural background. To test the hypothesis of a 'Teutonic work ethic', this paper takes advantage of Switzerland in its cultural diversity. By comparing different cultural groups in the same institutional setting, I empirically test whether such deep psychological traits have an influence on how unemployment is perceived. It is found that unemployment has a significantly negative effect on life satisfaction in Switzerland. I furthermore present evidence which confirms to some extent the hypothesis that Swiss German individuals suffer more from unemployment, although for the most part, these results are without statistical significance. Swiss Germans are additionally found to be happier than their French-speaking compatriots – independent of whether they are unemployed. This difference between Romanic and Germanic cultural backgrounds is in line with previous findings, but deserves further research attention.
    Keywords: life satisfaction, unemployment, cultural differences, Switzerland
    JEL: J28 J60 Z1
    Date: 2011–11
  3. By: Oshio, Takashi; Umeda, Maki; Kawakami, Norito
    Abstract: In this study, we examined the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity on adulthood subjective well-being, with a focus on the mediating and moderating effects of social support and socioeconomic status (SES). We concentrated on parental maltreatment (abuse and neglect) and bullying in school as childhood adversity variables and on perceived happiness, life satisfaction, and self-rated health as adulthood subjective well-being measures. Our empirical analysis was based on micro data from a survey in municipalities in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area (N = 3,292). We obtained four key findings. First, the experience of childhood adversity had a substantial negative impact on adulthood subjective well-being. Second, social support and SES significantly mediated the impact of childhood adversity. Third, a large proportion of the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity was unexplained by social support and SES mediation effects. Fourth, no social support or SES variable moderated the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity. Hence, we can conclude that childhood interpersonal adversity affects adulthood subjective well-being in a relatively independent manner rather than being substantially mediated or moderated by social support or SES. Accordingly, social policies should aim at reducing incidents of childhood maltreatment and bullying in addition to helping people enhance levels of social support and SES in later life.
    Keywords: Childhood adversity, adulthood subjective well-being, mediation analysis, Japan
    Date: 2011–11
  4. By: Chadi, Adrian
    Abstract: While rising unemployment generally reduces people's happiness, researchers argue that there is a compensating social-norm effect for the unemployed individual, who might suffer less when it is more common to be unemployed. This empirical study, however, rejects this thesis for German panel data and finds individual unemployment to be even more hurtful when aggregate unemployment is higher. On the other hand, an extended model that separately considers individuals who feel stigmatised from living off public funds yields strong evidence that this group of people does in fact suffer less when the normative pressure to earn one's own living is lower. --
    Keywords: social norms,unemployment,well-being,social benefits,labour market policies
    JEL: I3 J6
    Date: 2011
  5. By: Zumbro, Timo
    Abstract: The article investigates the relationship between life satisfaction and homeownership in Germany using, SOEP data from 1992 to 2009. While controlling for personal characteristics as well as various regional and dwelling attributes, ordered logit models support a marginal, though positive relationship. In addition, other household attributes such as the condition of the dwelling and the neighborhood area, exert a significant effect on life satisfaction. Further, the results confirm a significant interaction between homeownership and the condition of the dwelling as well as homeownership and the financial burden of the household. However, regression models with fixed effects also reveal, unobserved differences between homeowners and renters. --
    Keywords: homeownership,housing,subjective well-being,life satisfaction
    JEL: D1 R20 R21
    Date: 2011
  6. By: Mwangi wa Githinji (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
    Abstract: The question of poverty has become central to the work of development economists in the last decade and a half. The 2000 World Development Report was entitled Attacking Poverty and the UN held a series of World Conferences in the 1990s, all of which addressed in some form or fashion the problem of poverty. Despite this and because of limited data there has been relatively little empirical work at the household level on determinants of poverty in Africa generally and Kenya specifically. In the few econometric studies that have been done for Kenya land has not been a significant determinant of poverty. This is a surprising result for a country where 80 per cent of the population depends on agriculture. Further the little that has been done has not incorporated the role of human development in the determination of poverty. Via an examination of a nationwide sample this paper will examine the role that land and social capital play in determining households poverty status in rural Kenya in addition to the standard theorized determinants. JEL Categories: O150, Q150
    Keywords: Poverty, Rural, Land, Kenya, Africa, Human Development
    Date: 2011–11
  7. By: Victoria Ateca-Amestoy (University of the Basque Country); Alexandra Cortés Aguilar (Universidad Industrial de Santander); Ana I. Moro-Egido (University of Granada)
    Abstract: In this paper, we seek to examine the effect of comparisons and social capital on subjective well-being. Furthermore, we test if, through social influence and exposure, social capital is either an enhancer or appeaser of the comparison effect. Using the Latinobarómetro Survey (2007) we find that in contrast to most previous studies, the comparison effect on well-being is positive; that is, the better others perform, the happier the individual is. We also find that social capital is among the strongest correlates of individuals’ subjective well-being in Latin American countries. Furthermore, our findings suggest that social contacts may enhance the comparison effect on individual’s happiness, which is more intense for those who perform worse in their reference group.
    Keywords: Comparison effect, social capital, subjective well-being, social interactions
    JEL: D31 I31 O54 Z10
    Date: 2011–11–18

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