nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2012‒03‒28
eight papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Well-Being in Germany: What Explains the Regional Variation? By Johannes Vatter
  2. A New Way of Monitoring the Quality of Urban Life By Eduardo Lora; Andrew Powell
  3. Exploring Determinants of Subjective Wellbeing in OECD Countries: Evidence from the World Value Survey By Sarah Fleche; Conal Smith; Piritta Sorsa
  4. Trading Up the Happiness Ladder By Dluhosch, Barbara; Horgos, Daniel
  5. Impacts of globalization on quality of life: evidence from developing countries By Sapkota, Jeet Bahadur
  6. Law, Sustainability, and the Pursuit of Happiness By Farber, Daniel A.
  7. Outlier Nation? American Exceptionalism and the Quality of Life in the United States By Karabel, Jerome; Laurison, Daniel
  8. The Local Ladder Effect: Social Status and Subjective Well-Being By Anderson, Cameron; Kraus, Michael W.; Keltner, Dacher

  1. By: Johannes Vatter
    Abstract: This paper examines regional differences in subjective well-being (SWB) in Germany. Inferential statistics indicate a diminishing but still significant gap between East and West Germany, but also differing levels of SWB within both parts. The observed regional pattern of life satisfaction reflects macroeconomic fundamentals, where labor market conditions play a dominant role. Differing levels of GDP and economic growth have contributed rather indirectly to regional well-being such that the years since the German reunification can be considered as a period of joyless growth. In total, approximately half of "satisfaction gap" between East and West Germany can be attributed to differing macroeconomic conditions. Moreover, the effects of unemployment and income differ in size between regions such that one can assume increasing marginal disutility of unemployment. The comparably high levels of life satisfaction in Northern Germany are driven mostly by couples and go along with significantly higher fertility rates. Overall, we conclude that comparisons of SWB within a single country provide valid information.
    Keywords: Subjective well-being, regional disparities, unemployment, economic growth, fertility rate
    JEL: R10 I31
    Date: 2012
  2. By: Eduardo Lora; Andrew Powell
    Abstract: A growing number of cities around the world have established systems of monitoring the quality of urban life. Many of those systems combine objective and subjective information and attempt to cover a wide variety of topics. This paper introduces a simple method that takes advantage of both types of information and provides criteria to identify and rank the issues of potential importance for urban dwellers. The method combines the so-called ‘hedonic price’ and ‘life satisfaction’ approaches to value public goods. Pilot case results for six Latin American cities are summarized and policy applications are discussed.
    Keywords: urban economics, quality of life, Latin America, public goods, hedonic price method, life satisfaction method
    Date: 2011
  3. By: Sarah Fleche; Conal Smith; Piritta Sorsa
    Abstract: The paper explores issues with assessing wellbeing in OECD countries based on self-reported life satisfaction surveys in a pooled regression over time and countries, at the country level and the OECD average. The results, which are in line with previous studies of subjective wellbeing, show that, apart from income, the state of health, not being unemployed, and social relationships are particularly important for wellbeing with only some differences across countries. The results also show that cultural differences are not major drivers of differences in life satisfaction. Correlations between the rankings of measures of life satisfaction and other indicators of wellbeing such as the Human Development Index and Better Life Index are also relatively high. Measures of subjective wellbeing can play an important part in informing policy makers of progress with wellbeing in general, or what seems to matter for wellbeing— health, being employed and social contacts-- beyond income.<P>Examen des déterminants subjectifs du bien-être dans les pays de l'OCDE : une caractérisation basée sur le World Values Survey<BR>Ce document examine les questions liées à l’évaluation du bien-être dans les pays de l'OCDE à partir d’enquêtes de satisfaction de la vie auto-déclarée dans une régression sur un panel de pays avec une dimension temporelle, au niveau des pays et de la moyenne de l'OCDE. Les résultats, similaires à ceux d’études antérieures sur le bien-être subjectif, montrent que, en dehors de revenu, l'état de santé, ne pas être au chômage, et les relations sociales sont particulièrement importantes pour le bien-être, avec des différences limitées entre les pays. Les résultats montrent également que les différences culturelles ne sont pas les principaux facteurs de différences dans la satisfaction de la vie. Les corrélations entre les classements des mesures de satisfaction de la vie et d'autres indicateurs de bien-être tels que l'Indice de développement humain et l'Indice Vivre mieux sont également relativement élevées. Les mesures du bienêtre subjectif peuvent jouer un rôle important en informant les décideurs sur les progrès en termes de bienêtre en général, ou sur ce qui semble contribuer au bien-être – la santé, être employé et les contacts sociaux – au-delà des revenus.
    Keywords: health, welfare, well-being, comparative studies, santé, bien-être, etudes comparatives
    JEL: A13 I3 P52
    Date: 2012–01–31
  4. By: Dluhosch, Barbara (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg); Horgos, Daniel (Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg)
    Abstract: How globalization affects happiness is highly disputed. Several studies use an index that amalgamates globalization’s different dimensions into a single variable. Unlike previous studies and in order to better illuminate its facets, we adopt a disaggregated perspective on trade (policy) data. Distinguishing actual trade flows and the option value of trade, we find the former to slightly depress happiness, the latter to significantly promote happiness. Segmentation of WVS-data shows that the positive connotation is concentrated in low-income countries still in the process of climbing the income ladder, thus backing the notion of a shift in values.
    Keywords: Happiness; Well-Being; International Trade
    JEL: F13 I31
    Date: 2012–03–01
  5. By: Sapkota, Jeet Bahadur
    Abstract: This paper evaluates the impacts of globalization on quality of life, particularly on human development, gender development and human poverty in developing countries. Applying the fixed effect model to the annual panel data of 124 developing countries covering nine years from 1997, it shows that globalization (in terms of its comprehensive indexes and key elements) not only promotes human and gender development, but also significantly reduces human poverty. Not surprisingly, all the three aspects of globalization (economic, social and political) contribute to the overall effect of globalization. In general, the results from the key elements of globalization are consistent with the results from the comprehensive indexes. However, it is also observed that political and social globalization, FDI, and international migration were insignificant to gender-related development. Thus, further research is suggested for appropriate policy recommendations to make these variables significant on promoting gender aspects of development.
    Keywords: Globalization; human development; gender development; human poverty; developing countries
    JEL: F15 F22 I31 F21 F43 F24
    Date: 2011–05–11
  6. By: Farber, Daniel A.
    Abstract: Environmental law focuses on regulating the production of energy and goods. Less attention has been given to reducing the environmental footprint of consumption. This Article brings together several strands of research, including psychological and economic research on subjective wellbeing; research on energy efficiency; writings by urban planners on sustainable communities; and recent work on individual behavior and sustainability. The conclusion, in a nutshell, is that changes in consumption of goods and energy, assisted by improvements in urban design and transportation infrastructure, can significantly reduce energy use and environmental harm. A variety of legal tools are available to promote these changes. Remarkably, many of the steps needed for sustainability can actually improve quality of life, adding to individual satisfaction. Thus, sustainability for society and the pursuit of individual happiness need not be at odds.
    Keywords: Administrative Law; Economics; Energy and Utilities Law; Environmental Law; Land Use Planning; Law and Economics; Natural Resources Law; Oil, Gas, and Mineral Law; Public Law and Legal Theory; Water Law, Environmental Law
    Date: 2011–08–30
  7. By: Karabel, Jerome; Laurison, Daniel
    Abstract: This paper presents an Index of Societal Well-Being based on nine domains that represent essential components of a healthy, well-functioning society: the Economy, Education, Health, the Polity, the Environment, Social Capital, Mental Health and Subjective Well-Being, Crime and Incarceration, and Mobility andOpportunity. The paper describes the placement of 20 wealthy democracies on this index and on the domains that compose it. It then presents preliminary analyses of the relationships between the political and economic structure of these countries and their Societal Well-Being Index scores. Ideal-typical examples of three economic models--social democratic, coordinated, and liberal market--are identified. Societal well-being scores of countries adhering to the social democratic model rank relatively high, while societies adhering to the liberal market economy model tend to rank at the lower end of the index, with coordinated market economies performing slightly better. There is also a strong relationship between combined strength of unions and left-wing parties, on the one hand, and overall societal well-being, on the other. As a society with a weak left that is also the purest expression of the liberal market economy model, the low ranking of theUnited Stateson the Societal Well-Being Index follows the general pattern. 
    Keywords: Sociology, United States, Quality of Life, American Exceptionalism
    Date: 2011–12–01
  8. By: Anderson, Cameron; Kraus, Michael W.; Keltner, Dacher
    Abstract: Dozens of studies in different nations reveal that socioeconomic status only weakly predicts an individual’s subjective well-being (SWB). These effects suggest that although the pursuit of social status is a fundamental human motivation, achieving high status has little impact on one’s SWB. However, we propose that sociometric status – the respect and admiration one has in face-to-face groups (e.g., one’s friendship group or workplace) – has a stronger effect on SWB than does socioeconomic status. Using correlational, experimental, and longitudinal methodologies, four studies found consistent evidence for a “Local Ladder Effectâ€: sociometric status significantly predicted satisfaction with life and the experience of positive and negative emotions. Longitudinally, as sociometric status rises or falls, SWB rises or falls accordingly. Furthermore, these effects were driven by feelings of power and social acceptance. Overall, individuals’ sociometric status – their respect and admiration in local, face-to-face groups –matters more than their socioeconomic status for SWB.
    Keywords: Organizational Behavior and Theory
    Date: 2011–10–05

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