nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2013‒11‒02
seventeen papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life-Course Model of Well-Being By Andrew E. Clark; Francesca Cornaglia; Richard Layard; Nattavudh Powdthavee; James Vernoit
  2. Subjective well-being and socio-ecological transition By Gunther Tichy
  3. Happy Peasants and Frustrated Achievers? Agency, Capabilities, and Subjective Well-Being By Carol Graham; Milena Nikolova
  4. Natural Disaster, Policy Action, and Mental Well-Being: The Case of Fukushima By Goebel, Jan; Krekel, Christian; Tiefenbach, Tim; Ziebarth, Nicolas R.
  5. Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Effect of Income on Happiness Levels By Drakopoulos, Stavros A.; Grimani, Katerina
  7. Examining the Relationship between Paternal Incarceration, Maternal Stress, and Harsh Parenting Behaviors By Jerrett Jones
  8. Employment, Work-Family Conflict, and Parenting Stress Among Economically Disadvantaged Fathers By Kei Nomaguchi; Wendi Johnson
  9. Private Financial Transfers, the Great Recession, and Family Context By Aaron Gottlieb; Natasha V. Pilkauskas; Irwin Garfinkel
  10. The Intergenerational Consequences of Mass Incarceration: Implications for Children’s Contact with Grandparents By Kristin Turney
  11. Parents’ Relationship Quality and Children’s Behavior in Married and Cohabiting Families By Julia S. Goldberg; Marcia J. Carlson
  12. Multiracial infants and low birth weight: Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study By Kate H. Choi; Sara S. McLanahan
  13. Liminal Men: Incarceration and Family Instability By Kristin Turney
  14. Doubling Up as a Private Safety Net for Families with Children By Natasha V. Pilkauskas; Irwin Garfinkel; Sara S. McLanahan
  15. Trajectories of Couple Relationship Quality after Childbirth: Does Marriage Matter? By Marcia J. Carlson; Alicia G. VanOrman
  16. Grandpa and the snapper: the wellbeing of the elderly who live with children By Angus Deaton; Arthur A. Stone
  17. The heterogeneity of wellbeing “expenditure” preferences: evidence from a simulated allocation choice on the BES indicators By Leonardo Becchetti; Luisa Corrado; Maurizio Fiaschetti

  1. By: Andrew E. Clark; Francesca Cornaglia; Richard Layard; Nattavudh Powdthavee; James Vernoit
    Abstract: If policy-makers care about well-being, they need a recursive model of how adult life-satisfaction is predicted by childhood influences, acting both directly and (indirectly) through adult circumstances. We estimate such a model using the British Cohort Study (1970). The most powerful childhood predictor of adult life-satisfaction is the child's emotional health. Next comes the child's conduct. The least powerful predictor is the child's intellectual development. This has obvious implications for educational policy. Among adult circumstances, family income accounts for only 0.5% of the variance of life-satisfaction. Mental and physical health are much more important.
    Keywords: Well-being, Life-satisfaction, Intervention, Model, Life-course, Emotional health, Conduct, Intellectual performance, Success
    JEL: A12 D60 H00 I31
    Date: 2013–10
  2. By: Gunther Tichy
    Date: 2013–09
  3. By: Carol Graham (The Brookings Institution); Milena Nikolova (University of Maryland, College Park)
    Abstract: We explore the relationship between agency and hedonic and evaluative dimensions of well-being, using data from the Gallup World Poll. We posit that individuals emphasize one well-being dimension over the other, depending on their agency. We test four hypotheses including whether: (i) positive levels of well-being in one dimension coexist with negative ones in another; and (ii) individuals place a different value on agency depending on their positions in the well-being and income distributions. We find that: (i) agency is more important to the evaluative well-being of respondents with more means; (ii) negative levels of hedonic well-being coexist with positive levels of evaluative well-being as people acquire agency; and (iii) both income and agency are less important to well-being at highest levels of the well-being distribution. We hope to contribute insight into one of the most complex and important components of well-being, namely, people's capacity to pursue fulfilling lives.
    Keywords: agency, capabilities, subjective well-being
    JEL: I14 G18 O5
    Date: 2013–09
  4. By: Goebel, Jan (DIW Berlin); Krekel, Christian (DIW Berlin); Tiefenbach, Tim (German Institute for Japanese Studies); Ziebarth, Nicolas R. (Cornell University)
    Abstract: We study the impact of the Fukushima disaster on people's mental well‐being in another industrialized country, more than 5000 miles distant. The meltdown significantly increased environmental concerns by 20% among the German population. Subsequent drastic policy action permanently shut down the oldest nuclear reactors, implemented the phase‐out of the remaining ones, and proclaimed the transition to renewables. This energy policy turnaround is largely supported by the population and equalized the increase in mental distress. We estimate that during the 3 months after the meltdown, Fukushima triggered external monetized health costs worth â¬250 per distressed citizen â particularly among risk averse women.
    Keywords: Fukushima, meltdown, nuclear phase‐out, mental health, environmental worries, SOEP
    JEL: I18 I31 Z13 Q54
    Date: 2013–10
  5. By: Drakopoulos, Stavros A.; Grimani, Katerina
    Abstract: Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchical needs has been employed by a large variety of conceptual frameworks. The theory can also offer additional insights to the research field which investigates the relationship between income and reported happiness levels. The incorporation of needs hierarchy into a happiness framework implies that individuals have a priority approach to happiness. This means that the most important needs must be satisfied first before the secondary needs come into the picture. In terms of income-happiness relationship, it suggests that income is very important for happiness up to a certain level of income. For higher income levels this effect becomes much weaker, given that the satisfaction of non-basic needs becomes important. The chapter tests this idea by using the European Foundation European Quality of Life Survey 2007 which contains data from 30 European countries and Turkey. In the proposed model, reported happiness is placed as a dependent variable and income level as an independent variable. The ordered probit model (with robust standard errors) is the main statistical tool of the work. The empirical results indicate that there is a strong positive relationship between income and happiness for low income households group, and a non-significant relationship between income and happiness for high income households group. This result supports the presence of hierarchical behaviour. The model also contains personal variables such as gender, age, marital status, educational level, number of children, working hours per week, country dummy variables and employment status. The relationship of these variables to reported happiness levels is also examined. Finally, there is a comparison of the empirical findings to results in the relevant literature.
    Keywords: Happiness; Income; Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
    JEL: I31 J30 Y80
    Date: 2013–10
  6. By: Sangita Pudasainee-Kapri (Syracuse University); Rachel Razza (Syracuse University)
    Abstract: The present study examined the longitudinal associations among supportive coparenting and father engagement during infancy and mother-child attachment at age three within an at-risk sample (N= 1371), using secondary data from Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study. Mothers reported on coparenting and father engagement during the one-year phone interview and mother-child attachment was assessed using the Toddler Attachment Sort-39 (TAS-39) at age three during the three-year in-home interview. Findings suggest that supportive coparenting was significantly associated with higher levels of father engagement and more secure mother-child attachment relationship across three racial/ethnic groups including white, African American, and Hispanic. Interestingly, results also support racial/ethnic differences such that after controlling for child sex, infant temperament, family structure and maternal education, father engagement was a significant predictor of secure mother-child attachment only among Hispanic families. In addition, race/ethnicity moderated the link between supportive coparenting and father engagement such that the link was stronger among white families compared to minority families. Results highlight the significance of coparenting and father engagement in relation to mother-child attachment relationship. The implications of these findings for interventions targeting paternal engagement and coparenting among at-risk children are discussed.
    Keywords: Coparenting,; single parent families, Fragile Families, Children, marriage, prison, fathers
    JEL: D10 D60 H31 I30 J12
    Date: 2013–01
  7. By: Jerrett Jones (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
    Abstract: In response to rise of incarceration, there is a burgeoning literature examining the consequences of incarceration on families. Research has suggested that incarceration negatively impacts the well-being of partners connected to men with an incarceration history. However, research examining the effects of imprisonment on partners of former offenders remains underdeveloped. This area of research has yet to adequately address the methodological challenges associated with selection bias. This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N= 2,819) to examine the effect of paternal incarceration on maternal stress and harsh parenting behaviors. Using multiple methods and accounting for a rich set of covariates associated with incarceration, results run counter to existing literature. More specifically, after accounting for selection processes, the results suggest no relationship between paternal incarceration, maternal stress and harsh parenting behaviors. Research needs to address preexisting disadvantages that select partners to associating with criminal offenders.
    Keywords: prison, parenting, children, incarceration, fathers
    JEL: J12 J18 I00 J13 D13
    Date: 2013–01
  8. By: Kei Nomaguchi (Bowling Green State University); Wendi Johnson (Bowling Green State University)
    Abstract: Qualitative research suggests that economically disadvantaged fathers experience considerable stress due to difficulty fulfilling the breadwinning ideal and workplace inflexibility that ignores their childcare responsibility. Yet, quantitative research on how employment and work-family conflict are related to fathers’ parenting stress, especially in comparison with mothers’, is limited. Analyses using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3,165) show that current unemployment and greater work-family conflict, but not overwork, odd-jobs, and nonstandard hours, are related to more parenting stress for fathers. Similar patterns are found for mothers, except that work-family conflict is related to fathers’ more than mothers’ stress; and nonstandard schedule is related to less stress for mothers only. Current employment status and work-family conflict are the strongest predictors of fathers’ but not mothers’ stress. Results suggest that securing a job with flexible scheduling is important to reduce parenting stress among working-class parents regardless of gender.
    Keywords: prison, parenting, children, incarceration, fathers
    JEL: J12 J18 I00 J13 D13
    Date: 2013–02
  9. By: Aaron Gottlieb (Princeton University); Natasha V. Pilkauskas (Columbia University); Irwin Garfinkel (Columbia University)
    Abstract: Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=16,156), we study private financial transfers among mothers with young children. We describe patterns of transfers over time and explore whether the Great Recession influenced transfer behaviors. We find that the great majority of mothers participate in transfers at some point between years 1 and 9 of their child’s life. We also find that an increase in the unemployment rate is associated with higher odds of receiving a transfer and an increase in transfer dollars received. We find few differences in the association between the unemployment rate and transfers by mother’s family structure. In comparison, we find that poor and near poor mothers, those most likely impacted by the Great Recession, increased both their likelihood of receiving a transfer and the amount received whereas mothers earning between two and three times the poverty threshold reduced transfer dollars received.
    Keywords: family wealth, great recession, young children, mothers, tranfers
    JEL: D19 D60 I00 I32
    Date: 2013–05
  10. By: Kristin Turney (University of California, Irvine)
    Abstract: In response to the rapid growth in mass incarceration, a burgeoning literature documents the mostly deleterious consequences of mass incarceration for individuals and families. But mass incarceration, which has profoundly altered the American kinship system, may also have implications for relationships that span across generations. In this paper, I use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine how paternal incarceration has altered one important aspect of intergenerational relationships, children’s contact with grandparents. Results from both ordinary least squares (OLS) and fixed-effects regression models show that incarceration decreases the frequency of children’s contact with paternal, but not maternal, grandparents. More than one-quarter of this negative relationship is explained by separation between parents that occurs after paternal incarceration, highlighting the kinkeeping role of mothers. Additionally, consequences are concentrated among children living with both parents prior to paternal incarceration and among children of previously incarcerated fathers. Taken together, results provide some of the first evidence that the collateral consequences of incarceration may extend to intergenerational relationships.
    Keywords: incarceration, kinship, families, grandparents, fathers, children
    JEL: D10 I31 J12 J13 J14
    Date: 2013–05
  11. By: Julia S. Goldberg (University of Wisconsin, Madison); Marcia J. Carlson (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
    Abstract: While an extensive literature has shown that family structure is linked with child wellbeing, less well understood is how the dynamics within families affect children. Family systems theory posits that parents’ couple relationship is important for children’s well-being. In this paper, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 773) to examine how couple supportiveness in co-resident families is related to children’s externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems from child ages 3 to 9. Using latent growth curve and fixed effects models, we find that parents’ greater supportiveness is modestly associated with lower levels of children’s behavioral problems. Using cross-lagged structural equation models to examine the direction of the association, we find some evidence that relationship quality and children’s behavioral problems are reciprocally related. Overall, our study suggests that more positive couple interactions are beneficial for children residing with both of their biological parents.
    Keywords: Child Development, Family Process, Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), Marital Status, Relationship Quality
    JEL: D10 I31 J12 J13
    Date: 2013–05
  12. By: Kate H. Choi (University of Western Ontario); Sara S. McLanahan (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we examine how the birth outcomes of multiracial infants differ from those of their mono-racial counterparts and the extent to which disparities in birth outcomes are due to variation in socioeconomic background, prenatal health behaviors, and availability of social support. We find that (1) the birth outcomes of multiracial infants typically fall somewhere in between those of their mono-racial counterparts, (2) outcomes vary by mother’s race/ethnicity for some multiracial combinations, and (3) socioeconomic disparities account for a significant portion of the difference in rates of low birthweight between multi- and mono-racial infants born to White parents, while masking differences between infants born to Hispanic parents. Finally, differences in prenatal health behaviors and social support from baby’s father also play an important role in accounting for disparities in birth outcomes between multiracial infants and their mono-racial counterparts.
    Keywords: multiracial, children, births, infants, low birth weight
    JEL: D10 I00 I31 J13 J15
    Date: 2013–07
  13. By: Kristin Turney (University of California, Irvine)
    Abstract: Incarceration, now a rite of passage for many economically disadvantaged minority men involving an immediate and involuntary removal from families, places these marginal men in a liminal state where they are simultaneously members of families and isolated from families. Despite a burgeoning literature documenting the collateral consequences of incarceration for family life, as well as evidence that the deleterious effects of incarceration for maternal and child wellbeing stem from resultant family instability, much less is known about the direct link between incarceration and family instability. I consider this association with data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal survey uniquely positioned to understand the consequences of incarceration for family life. Results show that paternal incarceration is associated with relatively immediate relationship dissolution among couples in both marital and non-marital romantic partnerships when their child is born. But incarceration is inconsequential for couples that survive this initial period. The association between paternal incarceration and dissolution is not explained by post-incarceration changes in relationship quality, economic wellbeing, or physical and mental health, suggesting the liminality accompanying confinement is directly responsible for the deleterious consequences. Taken together, these findings document the consequences of liminality, link the literature on the collateral consequences of mass incarceration with the literature on demographic changes in family life, and have important implications for the transmission of inequality across generations.
    Keywords: minorities, men, fathers, prison, jail, family, children, incarceration
    JEL: D10 I00 I31 J13 J15
    Date: 2013–07
  14. By: Natasha V. Pilkauskas (Columbia University); Irwin Garfinkel (Columbia University); Sara S. McLanahan (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Low-income families rely on various sources of support, both public and private, to make ends meet. Although doubling up (moving in with relatives or nonkin) is a common source of support, previous research has not examined the economic value of doubling up as part of a family’s income packaging strategy. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, we examine doubling up as a source of private support—a private safety net—among families with young children. We find that doubling up is a very important private safety net in the first few years of a child’s life, especially for single and cohabiting mothers. Although high rates of unemployment (and other macro-economic indicators) are associated with increased odds of doubling up, the effect is small, indicating that this particular private safety net is not an effective coping mechanism for families during severe economic downturns.
    Keywords: Doubling Up; Private Support; Private Safety Nets; Fragile Families; Great Recession; Household Extension
    JEL: D10 D60 I00 J13 J12
    Date: 2013–08
  15. By: Marcia J. Carlson (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Alicia G. VanOrman (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
    Abstract: Marital quality typically declines after the birth of a (first) child, as parenthood brings new identities and responsibilities for mothers and fathers. Yet, it is less clear whether nonmarital, cohabiting relationship quality follows a similar trajectory. This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=2,108) with latent growth curve models to examine relationship quality for co-resident couples over nine years after a child’s birth. Findings suggest that marriage at birth is protective for couple relationship quality, net of various individual characteristics associated with marriage, compared to all cohabiting couples at birth; however, marriage does not differentiate relationship quality compared to the subset of stably-cohabiting couples. Also, cohabiting couples who get married after the birth have better relationship quality compared to all cohabitors who do not marry though again, not compared to stably-cohabiting couples.
    Keywords: Marriage, children, parenthood, cohabiting, quality
    JEL: J12 J13 D19
    Date: 2013–09
  16. By: Angus Deaton (Princeton University and NBER); Arthur A. Stone (Stony Brook University)
    Abstract: Elderly Americans who live with people under age 18 have lower life evaluations than those who do not. They also experience worse emotional outcomes, including less happiness and enjoyment, and more stress, worry, and anger. In part, these negative outcomes come from selection into living with a child, especially selection on poor health, which is associated with worse outcomes irrespective of living conditions. Yet even with controls, the elderly who live with children do worse. This is in sharp contrast to younger adults who live with children, likely their own, whose life evaluation is no different in the presence of the child once background conditions are controlled for. Parents, like elders, have enhanced negative emotions in the presence of a child, but unlike elders, also have enhanced positive emotions. In parts of the world where fertility rates are higher, the elderly do not appear to have lower life evaluations when they live with children; such living arrangements are more usual, and the selection into them is less negative. They also share with younger adults the enhanced positive and negative emotions that come with children. The misery of the elderly living with children is one of the prices of the demographic transition.
    Keywords: elderly, grandparents, anger, life evaluation, children, parents
    JEL: D19 D63 J12 J14 J13
    Date: 2013–07
  17. By: Leonardo Becchetti (University of Rome Tor Vergata); Luisa Corrado (University of Rome Tor Vergata); Maurizio Fiaschetti (University of Rome Tor Vergata)
    Abstract: With an online survey on major Italian newspapers we ask respondents to simulate the typical policymaker decision, that is, the dilemma of allocating scarce financial resources among alternative competing goals using the domains of the newly defined Italian BES (sustainable and equitable wellbeing) indicators. We find that two major factors explaining heterogeneity in preferences on expenditure in major wellbeing domains are left/right wing political orientation and low/high education. With regard to political orientation we identify “large coalition” items where left/right positions are similar and domains where opinion are more polarized. Overall, our findings document that left wing respondents would spend relatively more on environment, research and innovation, culture and education and relatively less on safety and measures directly aimed at improving economic wellbeing. We conclude that these findings make themselves significantly more oriented toward environmental sustainability in a hypothetical trade-off between economic growth and the latter.
    Keywords: wellbeing indicators, political preferences, wellbeing preferences
    JEL: I0 H0
    Date: 2013–10–24

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