nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2014‒03‒01
five papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. Richard Titmuss: Forty years on By Howard Glennerster
  2. Who Feels Inferior? A Test of the Status Anxiety Hypothesis of Social Inequalities in Health By Layte, Richard; Whelan, Christopher T.
  3. Life Satisfaction, Contract Farming and Property Rights: Evidence from Ghana By Susanne Väth; Simone Gobien
  4. Identity, Nostalgia and Happiness among Migrants: The Case of the Kōshien High School Baseball Tournament in Japan By Yamamura, Eiji
  5. Parenthood and happiness: Direct and indirect impacts of parenthood on happiness By Beja, Edsel Jr.

  1. By: Howard Glennerster
    Abstract: Richard Titmuss was one of the world's leading public analysts and philosophers. He was highly influential in shaping the post-war welfare state and created the subject we now call social policy. What would he make of the present state of welfare? This lecture reflects on the man and the times which shaped his ideas. What is his legacy forty years on from his death? Which of his ideas have lasted and which have proved less durable? What gaps were there in his world view?
    Keywords: social policy, Titmuss, well-being
    JEL: I38
    Date: 2014–02
  2. By: Layte, Richard; Whelan, Christopher T.
    Abstract: The empirical association between income inequality, population health and other social problems is now well established and the research literature suggests that the relationship is not artefactual. Debate is still ongoing as to the cause of this association. Wilkinson, Marmot and colleagues have argued for some time that the relationship stems from the psycho-social effects of status comparisons. Here, income inequality is a marker of a wider status hierarchy that provokes an emotional stress response in individuals that is harmful to health and well-being. We label this the 'status anxiety hypothesis'. If true, this would imply a structured relationship between income inequality at the societal level, individual income rank and anxiety relating to social status. This paper sets out strong and weak forms of the hypothesis and then presents three predictions concerning the structuring of 'status anxiety' at the individual level, given different levels of national income inequality and varying individual income. We then test these predictions using data from a cross-national survey of over 34,000 individuals carried out in 2007 in 31 European countries. Respondents from low inequality countries reported less status anxiety than those in higher inequality countries at all points on the income rank curve. This is an important precondition of support for the status anxiety hypothesis and may be seen as providing support for the weaker version of the hypothesis. However, we do not find evidence to support a stronger version of the hypothesis which we argue requires the negative effect of income rank on status anxiety to be exacerbated by increasing income inequality.
    Keywords: data/income inequality/Individuals/Inequality/population
    Date: 2014–01
  3. By: Susanne Väth (University of Marburg); Simone Gobien (University of Marburg)
    Abstract: Large-scale land acquisition has increased dramatically in recent years. The question whether land deals can benefit both the local population and the investor is therefore high on the international agenda. Contract farming is discussed as a possible solution but studies identifying the causal effects are rare. Using data from a quasi-natural experiment in contract allocation, we compare the subjective well-being of outgrowers and independent farmers in the sphere of the biggest palm oil producer in Ghana. We identify a positive causal effect of the outgrower scheme which increases subjective well-being by 1.5 points on a scale of 0 to 10. We find a substitutive relationship between having an outgrower contract and having property rights, and thus we argue that by increasing security a contract increases well-being, as secure rights to land matter substantially for the overall life satisfaction of non-contract but not of contract farmers.
    Keywords: contract farming, property rights, quasi-natural experiment, subjective well-being, large-scale land acquisition
    JEL: D60 I31 Q13
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Yamamura, Eiji
    Abstract: High school baseball is very popular in Japan. All games of the high school baseball tournaments are publicly broadcasted. This paper hypothesizes that high school baseball influences the happiness level of the Japanese. Individual level data in Japan was used to test this hypothesis. The key findings of the study were as follows. (1) The number of wins of a team representing a prefecture increased the happiness level of its residents. (2) This effect was only observed for residents of large cities and not for other areas. (3) For migrants who had moved from rural to urban areas, the effect of their home team wins was greater than that of the wins of the team representing their current residence. This effect was significant in cases where the cultural climate of the host area differed from that of the migrant’s home area. The findings of this study support the argument that a scarcity of goods related to the residential community increases the influence of high school baseball on happiness. Further, nostalgia for home influences migrants’ happiness, and this influence is greater than the attachment they form to their current residential community.
    Keywords: migrants, happiness, identity, baseball, social capital
    JEL: I31 N83 Z10 Z13 Z18
    Date: 2014–02–10
  5. By: Beja, Edsel Jr.
    Abstract: Does parenthood bring happiness? This paper finds that the overall impact of parenthood on happiness is negative because the negative indirect impacts exceed the positive direct on happiness. What needs emphasizing is that, while the findings show that parenthood is still a positive status, parenthood undermines life domains in significant ways. In teasing out the different routes in which parenthood affects happiness, this paper thus highlights a problem with the standard conclusion in the extant literature: there is a conflation of the positive direct and negative indirect impacts of parenthood on happiness. The paper then argues that public policy and related programs can both strengthen the positive direct impact and help reverse the negative indirect impacts of parenthood on happiness.
    Keywords: Parenthood; children; happiness; life domains; mediation
    JEL: A12 D10 I31 J10
    Date: 2014–02–10

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