New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2013‒11‒16
eight papers chosen by

  1. The Threat of Domestic Violence and Women Empowerment: The Case of West Africa By Marcel-Cristian Voia; Saikou Amadou Diallo
  2. Happy Voters By Liberini, Federica; Redoano, Michela; Proto, Eugenio
  3. Mental Illness and Unhappiness By Richard Layard; Dan Chisholm; Vikram Patel; Shekhar Saxena
  4. Life Satisfaction and Unemployment: The Role of Voluntariness and Job Prospects By André Hajek
  5. Day-Care Expansion and Parental Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Germany By Pia S. Schober; Christian Schmitt
  6. Autonomy-enhancing paternalism By Martin Binder; Leonhard K. Lades
  7. From headscarves to donation: Three essays on the economics of gender, health and happiness. By Ugur, Z.B.
  8. Do community currencies enhance sustainable quality of life? By Mock, Mirijam; Omann, Ines; Rauschmayer, Felix; Fuchs, Daniela

  1. By: Marcel-Cristian Voia (Department of Economics, Carleton University); Saikou Amadou Diallo (Health Canada)
    Abstract: In this paper we assess the significance of a set of threats of domestic violence in ten West African countries that we argue limit the potential of women in particular and the development of society. Our data consists of the most recent year of a country-specific Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), conducted in the same way for each participating country. The risk of domestic violence and the intensity of its threat are assessed using different probabilistic model specifications together with an assessment of how heterogeneous/homogenous are these effects across the set of countries. The overall results suggest that religion has played a significant role in relation to domestic violence in most countries, the exceptions being Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Area of residence has played an important positive role in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone while the level of well-being and/or household’s level of wealth have a significant negative impact on the threat of domestic violence in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. Finally, the factor that we feel has been most important in reducing the threat of domestic violence has been improvement in the status and/or autonomy of women. This is characterized in our sample by the fact that wife is working, plays a decision making role in the family, is sexually active and has a higher level of education.
    Keywords: “threat” of domestic violence, women empowerment, West Africa
    JEL: J12 J16 I24 I25 I31
    Date: 2013–09–22
  2. By: Liberini, Federica (ETH, Zurich); Redoano, Michela (University of Warwick); Proto, Eugenio (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: In this paper we investigate whether or not recent initiatives taken by governments and international organizations to come up with indicators of SubjectiveWell Being (SWB) to inform policy makers go in the same direction as citizens expectations on what policy makers should do. We test retrospective voting hypotheses by using standard measures of SWB as a proxy for utility instead of the commonly used indicators of economic and …nancial circumstances. Using the British Household Panel Survey Data we …nd that citizens who are satis…ed with their life are more likely to cast their vote in favour of the ruling party, even taking into account ideological preferences. We show that SWB in‡uences voting decision even when the event a¤ecting the SWB is beyond the government’s control, like the spouse death.
    Keywords: Wellbeing, Political Competition, Swing Voter Hypothesis, Retrospective Voting.
    Date: 2013
  3. By: Richard Layard; Dan Chisholm; Vikram Patel; Shekhar Saxena
    Abstract: This paper is a contribution to the second World Happiness Report. It makes five main points. 1. Mental health is the biggest single predictor of life-satisfaction. This is so in the UK, Germany and Australia even if mental health is included with a six-year lag. It explains more of the variance of life-satisfaction in the population of a country than physical health does, and much more than unemployment and income do. Income explains 1% of the variance of life-satisfaction or less. 2. Much the most common forms of mental illness are depression and anxiety disorders. Rigorously defined, these affect about 10% of all the world’s population – and prevalence is similar in rich and poor countries. 3. Depression and anxiety are more common during working age than in later life. They account for a high proportion of disability and impose major economic costs and financial losses to governments worldwide. 4. Yet even in rich countries, under a third of people with diagnosable mental illness are in treatment. 5. Cost-effective treatments exist, with recovery rates of 50% or more. In rich countries treatment is likely to have no net cost to the Exchequer due to savings on welfare benefits and lost taxes. But even in poor countries a reasonable level of coverage could be obtained at a cost of under $2 per head of population per year.
    Keywords: Mental illness, welfare benefits, healthcare costs, life-satisfaction
    JEL: I10 I14 I18
    Date: 2013
  4. By: André Hajek
    Abstract: By using longitudinal data the relation between satisfaction with life and unemployment is analyzed in this study. Data used in this publication were made available by the German Socio Economic Panel Study (SOEP) at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Berlin. A period from 1998-2009 is evaluated. This publication has two goals. (1) To estimate the effects of voluntary and involuntary unemployment on life satisfaction. (2) Moreover, the intent is to answer the question of whether job prospects influence life satisfaction. This study has yielded the following results: In contrast to voluntary job leavings involuntary job leavings noticeable reduce satisfaction. Furthermore, a lack of job prospects before leaving the last position decreases life satisfaction as well. Additionally, an exogenous stimulus (plant shutdown) diminishes satisfaction, especially those of men. The implications are discussed.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction, unemployment, SOEP, fixed-effects, job prospects, voluntariness
    JEL: J64 I31
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Pia S. Schober; Christian Schmitt
    Abstract: This study investigates whether the expansion of day-care places for under-three-year-old children in East and West Germany from 2007 to 2011 has improved the subjective wellbeing for mothers and fathers with a youngest child in this age group. We extend existing cross-sectional country comparisons and single country policy evaluations by comparing regional variations over time in two different contexts in terms of work-care ideals, labour market, and child care policies. The empirical analysis links administrative records on daycare use at youth welfare office district level from 2007 to 2011 to regionally aggregated data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for 2007 to 2011 and from the ‘Families in Germany‘-Study (Familien in Deutschland, FID) for 2010 and 2011. We apply fixed-effects models at the county level. We find that in regions with larger day-care growth mothers and fathers expressed greater satisfaction with the available child care. In West Germany, the daycare expansion was positively associated with an increase in maternal satisfaction with family life, health, personal income, and life overall, whereas fathers’ subjective well-being was less affected. In East Germany, for mothers the associations with some domains were similarly positive but reached statistical significance only for maternal satisfaction with family life. The results suggest that the excess demand before the expansion in West and East Germany restricted maternal choice and well-being more than fathers’.
    Keywords: Well-being, satisfaction, parenthood, early childhood education and care, child care
    Date: 2013
  6. By: Martin Binder; Leonhard K. Lades
    Abstract: Behavioral economics has shown that individuals sometimes make decisions that are not in their best interest. This insight has prompted calls for behaviorally-informed policy interventions popu-larized under the notion of "libertarian paternalism". This type of soft paternalism aims at helping individuals without reducing their freedom of choice. We highlight three problems of libertarian paternalism: the difficulty to detect what is in the best interest of an individual, the focus on freedom of choice at the expense of a focus on autonomy, and the neglect of the dynamic effects of libertarian paternalistic policy interventions. We present a form of soft paternalism called "autonomy-enhancing paternalism" that seeks to constructively remedy these problems. Autonomy-enhancing paternalism suggests using insights from subjective well-being research in order to determine what makes individuals better off. It imposes an additional con-straint on the set of permissible interventions highlighting the importance of autonomy in the sense of the capability to make critically reflected, i.e. autonomous, decisions. Finally, it acknowl-edges that behavioral interventions can change the strength of individual decision making anomalies over time as well as influence individual preference learning. We illustrate the differences between libertarian paternalism and autonomy-enhancing paternalism in a simple formal model in the context of optimal sin nudges.
    Keywords: libertarian paternalism, behavioral economics, subjective well-being, autonomy, preference learning, welfare economics
    Date: 2013–11–08
  7. By: Ugur, Z.B. (Tilburg University)
    Abstract: Abstract: Zeynep’s research interests are mainly in the field of health and labor economics. In this thesis, she explores a broad range of topics within the domain of the economics of gender, health and happiness. The first chapter provides the motivations for the studies and summarizes the main findings. The second chapter documents differences in educational attainment, labor market outcomes and childbearing among women by their use of headscarves and investigates the impact of the headscarf ban in Turkey on women’s educational attainment, labor force participation and childbearing decisions. In Chapter 3, she explores the relationship between presumed consent legislation and various organ donation indicators such as willingness to donate one’s organs, organ donation card holding, actual organ donation rates and kidney transplantation rates. The last chapter looks at the relationship between pro-social behavior and subjective wellbeing and tries to quantify the happiness effect of donating in the Netherlands.
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Mock, Mirijam; Omann, Ines; Rauschmayer, Felix; Fuchs, Daniela
    Abstract: Community currencies and their contribution to a sustainable development have been quite widely discussed. In contrast, their potential to raise the personal quality of life of their members and users has been less noted. Combining these two strands, we argue that community currencies enhance an individual sustainable quality of life. We underpin this by analysing data of an online survey of members and users of community currencies in Austria and Germany. The theoretical foundation of our analysis is the Capability Approach and its notion of quality of life, saying that a high quality of life is characterized by high freedom of choice of valuable doings and beings. A sustainable high quality of life would then be characterized by a high freedom of choice within the limits given by planetary boundaries and further sustainability criteria. This perspective allows inferringthat community currencies do not just contribute to sustainable development via their often emphasized effects in the field of regionalization and local value added, but in a much more encompassing way. --
    Date: 2013

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