New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2013‒03‒16
five papers chosen by

  1. Do I stay because I am happy or am I happy because I stay? Life satisfaction in migration, and the decision to stay permanently, return and out-migrate By Isilda Mara; Michael Landesmann
  2. Crime, health and wellbeing – Longitudinal evidence from Mexico By Braakmann, Nils
  3. “All’s well that ends well!” subjective wellbeing: an epistemic enquiry By Pillai N., Vijayamohanan; B. P., Asalatha
  4. Objectivizing the Subjective: Measuring Subjective Wellbeing By Pillai N., Vijayamohanan; B. P., Asalatha
  5. Litigation as a Measure of Well-Being By Eisenberg, Theodore; Kalantry, Sital; Robinson, Nick

  1. By: Isilda Mara (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies); Michael Landesmann (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies)
    Abstract: Mobility in the forms of permanent migration, return or out-migration can provide individuals with gainful employment, better jobs and a higher level of earnings. But as a growing number of studies are suggesting, the gains from migration should not be strictly evaluated from the utilitarian approach but subjective well-being indicators should be taken into consideration. The purpose of this study is to test how life satisfaction during the migration experience determines the preference to stay, return or out-migrate by controlling not only for economic but also for social and subjective well-being determinants. We aim to address this analysis by combining two streams of research: the one on migration and return decisions and the one on life satisfaction and subjective well-being literature so as to broaden the analytical framework to add to economic thinking also some of the main findings from other social sciences. The results of the study confirm that, once in the destination country, migration intentions such as to stay permanently, to move to another country or to return home are strongly linked to the assessment of life satisfaction through diverse social and economic drivers. For women life satisfaction is not only a good predictor of migration preferences but also a mediator, whereas for men this is not confirmed. Determinants that appear to be positively linked with life satisfaction are civic participation and housing which correlate with migrants’ reporting high levels of life satisfaction.
    Date: 2013–03
  2. By: Braakmann, Nils
    Abstract: This paper uses variation in victimization probabilities between individuals living in the same community to shed new light on the costs of crime. I use panel data from the Mexican Family Life Survey for 2002 and 2005 and look at the impact of within-community differences in victimization risk on changes in self-rated and mental health. My results from fixed effects and instrumental variable estimations point towards substantial negative health effects of actual victimization, which might help to explain the existence of compensating differentials in wages or house prices found in earlier studies.
    Keywords: cost of crime; victimization; health
    JEL: H40 I10 I12 K00 K42 R23
    Date: 2013–01–21
  3. By: Pillai N., Vijayamohanan; B. P., Asalatha
    Abstract: Wellbeing in general is represented in terms of the quality of life of an individual or group. The different objective and subjective indicators that go into the composition of quality of life leave its definition and measurement elusive, despite its global recognition as a policy goal. Attempts at an objective measure have brought out two basic methodological alternatives. The first, objective, measure has come out as the famous Physical Quality of Life Index, supplanted now by the Human Development Index. The second one, dealing with subjective wellbeing, focuses upon self-reported levels of happiness, pleasure, fulfillment etc. The present study, divided into five sections, is an epistemic enquiry into subjective wellbeing. After the introductory remarks, section 2 presents the recent discussions in the theory of subjective wellbeing, especially in terms of life satisfaction and domain satisfaction and their relationship. Section 3 introduces the concepts of Hedonism and Eudaimonia in the notion of wellbeing; one’s life goes well to the extent that one is contented with it (hedonistic element); at the same time, it is the term wellbeing’, not the term ‘happiness’, that denotes the notion of what makes life good for the individual living that life (eudaimonia). Section 4 traces the development of the concept of wellbeing in terms of Utilitarian philosophy in the 18th century and section 5 discusses wellbeing in the context of the theory of justice. The next section presents the capabilities approach of Sen and Nussbaum in the wellbeing framework. While Rawls limited his analysis of social welfare to the ‘social primary goods’ that rational humans need or desire, and ‘negative freedoms’ that involve the absence of interference, the capabilities approach of Sen and Nussbaum expanded on the base of Rawlsian philosophy to include ‘positive freedoms’ as well, like freedom from being constrained by poverty or a lack of education.
    Keywords: Wellbeing; Subjective and Objective; Life satisfaction; Capability;Justice
    JEL: B4 D6 I3
    Date: 2013–03–01
  4. By: Pillai N., Vijayamohanan; B. P., Asalatha
    Abstract: Wellbeing has always eluded definition, and the elusive definition, in turn, has denuded the concept of an objective measure. Attempts at an objective measure have brought out two basic methodological alternatives. The first, objective, measure has come out as the famous Physical Quality of Life Index, developed by the sociologist Morris David Morris in the 1970s, based on the indicators of basic literacy, infant mortality, and life expectancy, and supplanted now by the Human Development Index. The second one, dealing with subjective wellbeing, focuses upon self-reported levels of happiness, pleasure, fulfillment etc. The present paper, in five sections, seeks to review the available objective measures of subjective wellbeing. In particular, section 2 discusses some of the important attempts at measuring wellbeing, especially objective wellbeing in terms of objective indicators. Section 3 details the subjective approach to wellbeing in terms of life satisfaction, represented by measures of global life-satisfaction, affect balance, average domain satisfaction and income. Section 4 presents a list of variables which are correlated with global reports of life satisfaction and happiness, such as smiling frequency, sociability and extraversion, sleep quality, high income, and high income rank in a reference group, active involvement in religion, self-reported health, age, sex, education, etc. Section 5 then reports on the surveys of subjective wellbeing, such as the World Values Survey, the General Social Survey, the Eurobarometer Survey, the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale, and the Gallup World Poll, and seeks to interpret the scores received. The next section turns to a major concern of researchers in the field, which is whether self-report instruments are valid, whether there are cases wherein people might report that they are happy yet not truly experience high subjective well-being. The section also discusses briefly the recent attempts to mesaure individual welfare in terms of moment-to-moment affect in such approaches as Experience Sampling or the Day Reconstruction Method.
    Keywords: Subjective wellbeing; Objective measure; perceptions; life satisfaction surveys;
    JEL: B4 D6 I3
    Date: 2013–03–01
  5. By: Eisenberg, Theodore; Kalantry, Sital; Robinson, Nick
    Abstract: The common perception is that high or growing litigation rates in a country are a sign of societal pathology. Studies of litigation rates, however, consistently report that lawsuit filings per capita increase with economic prosperity, thus suggesting that litigation rates are a natural consequence of prosperity and not necessarily evidence of an overly litigious populace. India’s substantial interstate variation in litigation rates and in economic and noneconomic measures of well-being provide an opportunity to evaluate the relation between well-being and litigation rates. Using many years of data on civil filings in India’s lower courts and High Courts, we present evidence that more prosperous states have higher civil litigation rates. We also report the first evidence that accounting for noneconomic well-being, as measured by the education and life expectancy components of the Human Development Index, explains litigation rate patterns better than using a purely economic measure of well-being, GDP per capita. Despite India’s continuing economic growth, we present data that indicates India’s enormous and growing civil case backlog has discouraged civil case filings in recent years. These findings raise the question whether India’s future economic growth will be compromised if courts at all levels, particularly lower courts, do not resolve disputes more quickly.
    Keywords: litigation, well being, India
    JEL: K41 K49 P59
    Date: 2013–03

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