New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2014‒04‒29
four papers chosen by

  1. Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Well-being: Results from Four Data Sets By Cheng, Terence C.; Powdthavee, Nattavudh; Oswald, Andrew J.
  2. Innovation in institutional collaboration By Fowler, A.F.
  3. Corporate Volunteering And Its Influence On Employee Civil Engagement In Russia By Irina I. Krasnopolskaya
  4. The Multiplicative Effect of Individual- and Country-level Unemployment on Life Satisfaction in 97 Nations (1981-2009) By Esteban Calvo; Christine Mair

  1. By: Cheng, Terence C. (University of Melbourne); Powdthavee, Nattavudh (London School of Economics); Oswald, Andrew J. (University of Warwick and CAGE)
    Abstract: There is a large amount of cross-sectional evidence for a midlife low in the life cycle of human happiness and well-being (a ‘U shape’). Yet no genuinely longitudinal inquiry has uncovered evidence for a U-shaped pattern. Thus some researchers believe the U is a statistical artefact. We re-examine this fundamental cross-disciplinary question. We suggest a new test. Drawing on four data sets, and only within-person changes in well-being, we document powerful support for a U-shape in unadjusted longitudinal data without the need for regression equations. The paper’s methodological contribution is to exploit the first-derivative
    Keywords: Life-cycle happiness, subjective well-being, longitudinal study, U shape
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Fowler, A.F.
    Abstract: The world is said to be confronted with complex issues working against the long term well-being of people and planet that can only be effectively addressed through (hyper) collective effort. How necessary collaboration comes about and progresses shows numerous approaches, professional specialisations, studies and examples. However, there is little in the way of a comprehensive, comparative perspective examining the instigator(s) of diverse collective action objectives and participants in co-creative relationships for societal change that are maintained over time and brought to fruition. More critically, organisational innovations suggest that what currently exists to tackle intractable problems by getting institutions and their organisational actors to cooperate needs updating. Past approaches to collaboration are not good enough for operating in tomorrow’s conditions. Drawing on Actor Network Theory, this paper therefore explores a category of actant – an interlocutor – as potentially crucial in committing to, arranging and holding together complex collective action engagements. From multiple angles and using examples of organisational innovation, the analysis considers the interplay between interlocutor attributes and interlocution processes. A preliminary conclusion is that a combination of characteristics exhibited by an interlocutor offers a helpful category to explain and bring about multi-institutional problem solving. As importantly, increasing the number and variety of interlocutors across the world may be an agenda worth pursuing.
    Keywords: interlocutor, institutions, innovation, collective action, actor networks
    Date: 2014–04–14
  3. By: Irina I. Krasnopolskaya (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper is devoted to identifying and analyzing the role of corporate volunteering in functioning as the infrastructure of volunteer activity in Russia and the influence of employee civil engagement. Four main functions of third-sector infrastructure are used in this article: motivation and mobilization, organization and support of civil activity, education and socialization, representation and interests protection, as well as net construction and communications. The theoretical background of the research methods lie in the institutional treatment of corporate social responsibility. The role of corporate volunteering in employee civic engagement based on a comparison of the employees who participate in volunteering events and those who do not is examined in detail. Based on the results of binary logistic regression analysis, we conclude that employee participation in corporate volunteering positively influences their civil engagement outside the corporation and satisfaction with various aspects of one’s life. Corporate volunteers (n = 399) are statistically more likely to report civil engagement and personal happiness and satisfaction than employees who do not take part in corporate volunteering events (n=402). Corporate volunteering is positively related with current and future civil engagement, including monetary donations.
    Keywords: corporate social responsibility; corporate volunteering; volunteering infrastructure; civic participation.
    JEL: Z13
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Esteban Calvo (Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales); Christine Mair (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maryland-Baltimore)
    Abstract: Although the negative association between unemployment and life satisfaction is well-documented, much theoretical and empirical controversy surrounds the question of how unemployment actually shapes life satisfaction. Previous studies suggest that unemployment may endanger subjective well-being through individual experiences, contextual conditions, or a combination of both. Drawing data from the World Values Survey, European Values Survey, and World Development Indicators databases for 400,917 individuals in 97 nations (1981-2009), we use three-tiered hierarchical linear models to test four competing theory-based hypotheses—that unemployment shapes life satisfaction through individual, contextual, additive, or multiplicative effects. Our results support a multiplicative interaction between individual- and country-level unemployment. Unemployed individuals are less satisfied than workers, students, retirees, and homemakers, but this life satisfaction gap varies in complex ways depending on national unemployment rates. We discuss these findings in light of previous theoretical models and combine them with the life course perspective to argue for a model where individual unemployment is understood in comparison with diverse labor force statuses that make up the life course and within the broader context of national unemployment rates. We conclude with suggestions for public policy to promote subjective well-being through individualized and contextualized plans addressing the negative consequences of unemployment.
    Date: 2014–04

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.