nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2014‒06‒02
eleven papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
University of Milano-Bicocca

  1. What Can Life Satisfaction Data Tell Us About Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities? A Structural Equation Model for Australia and the United Kingdom By Nattavudh Powdthavee; Mark Wooden
  2. (English) Can the Economics of Happiness Revive the Economics of Welfare (Italiano) L’economia della felicità può rinnovare l’economia del benessere? By AndreaSalvatore Antonio Barbieri
  3. Coresidency, Ethnicity, and Happiness of China's Rural Elders By Connelly, Rachel; Iannotti, Michael; Maurer-Fazio, Margaret; Zhang, Dandan
  4. When Does Education Matter? The Protective Effect of Education for Cohorts Graduating in Bad Times By David Cutler; Wei Huang; Adriana Lleras-Muney
  5. Environment, Well-Being, and Experienced Preference By Heinz Welsch; Susana Ferreira
  6. The Linkage Between Fitness, Nutrition and Mind for our Well-being, Abundance and Health By Feldman, Anat
  7. ‘United in Diversity’---Does Social Diversity Increase Subjective? By Matthias Opfinger
  8. Children’s skill formation in less developed countries – The impact of sports participation By Pawlowski, Tim; Schüttoff, Ute; Downward, Paul; Lechner, Michael
  9. Son preference, fertility and family structure : evidence from reproductive behavior among Nigerian women By Milazzo, Annamaria
  10. Housing and urbanization in Africa : unleashing a formal market process By Collier, Paul; Venables, Anthony J.
  11. Individual and Societal Wisdom: Explaining the Paradox of Human Aging and High Well-Being By Jeste, Dilip V; Oswald, Andrew J

  1. By: Nattavudh Powdthavee; Mark Wooden
    Abstract: Very little is known about how the differential treatment of sexual minorities could influence subjective reports of overall well-being. This paper seeks to fill this gap. Data from two large surveys that provide nationally representative samples for two different countries - Australia (the HILDA Survey) and the UK (the UK Household Longitudinal Study) - are used to estimate a simultaneous equations model of life satisfaction. The model allows for self-reported sexual identity to influence a measure of life satisfaction both directly and indirectly through seven different channels: (i) income; (ii) employment; (iii) health (iv) partner relationships; (v) children; (vi) friendship networks; and (vii) education. Lesbian, gay and bisexual persons are found to be significantly less satisfied with their lives than otherwise comparable heterosexual persons. In both countries this is the result of a combination of direct and indirect effects.
    Keywords: Sexual orientation, sexual minorities, discrimination, life satisfaction, HILDA survey, UKHLS
    JEL: I31 J71
    Date: 2014–05
  2. By: AndreaSalvatore Antonio Barbieri
    Abstract: (English) This article questions the increasing use of “happiness” or “subjective well-being” in order to evaluate public policies and social conditions. In more scientific words, can the blossoming economics of happiness revive the economics of welfare, which is said to be dying? The first section puts economics of happiness in the history of economic thought. The second part presents the methodological arguments and proofs of happiness data relevance, as well the results that open on welfare economics renewal and unusual political recommendations. The last part concludes that happiness is a useful criterion to evaluate society’s state, but should not be the only one: happiness data can allow avoiding paternalism and ethnocentrism, for example, but happiness economics face several and serious challenges that should prevent researchers from transforming satisfaction scores into the only barometer of public action. (Italiano) Lo scopo di questo lavoro è quello di esaminare le questioni che solleva l’utilizzo di dati sul “benessere soggettivo” per valutare le politiche pubbliche. In termini più accademici, si tratta di determinare in quale misura l’economia della felicità, in piena espansione, può contribuire a rinnovare l’economia del benessere, che secondo alcuni autori sarebbe in una fase di stallo. Per capire meglio le implicazioni di questa questione, la prima parte dell’articolo situa l’economia della felicità e l’economia del benessere nella storia del pensiero economico. La seconda parte presenta le argomentazioni metodologiche dell’economia della felicità e il suo contributo al rinnovamento delle raccomandazioni delle politiche economiche e dell’economia del benessere. L’ultima parte sottolinea che la felicità è un criterio utile, ma non può essere l’unico criterio per giudicare lo stato della società: se l’economia della felicità vuole evitare una forma di paternalismo o di etnocentrismo, le incertezze metodologiche che ancora la circondano, e le obiezioni in linea di principio ci invita a non fare della felicità il solo barometro dell’azione pubblica.
    Keywords: (English) Happiness; Subjective well-being; Welfare economics; Utilitarianism; “Welfarism” (Italiano) Economia della felicità; Economia del benessere; Benessere soggettivo; Utilitarismo; “Welferismo”
    Date: 2014
  3. By: Connelly, Rachel (Bowdoin College); Iannotti, Michael (Bates College); Maurer-Fazio, Margaret (Bates College); Zhang, Dandan (Peking University)
    Abstract: As China moves into the ranks of aged societies, coresidency of elders with their adult children has become an increasingly important policy concern. This article utilizes data from the 2000 Population Census of China and the 2011 Chinese Household Ethnicity Survey (CHES) to analyze coresidency patterns of rural elders in seven Chinese provinces with high concentrations of ethnic minority populations. We also explore one consequence of coresidency, reported happiness. We find that socioeconomic variables matter in the determination of coresidency in China in ways that are very similar to their roles in other countries. However, changes between 2000 and 2011 in the effects of age and widowhood show that coresidency decisions among rural elders provinces are transitioning from child-centric to parent-centric. Our analysis also reveals the large role cultural norms play in determining coresidency, as evidenced by differences across ethnic groups. The CHES data allow us to compare coresidency across ethnicity with respect to both individual and regional degrees of assimilation versus isolation. Elders who do not speak Mandarin have higher rates of coresidency than those who do. Additionally, those who live in counties with low rates of intermarriage and intergroup friendships are also more likely to coreside. In exploring the determinants of happiness, we find again that socioeconomic and demographic conditions matter, as does ethnicity. Controlling all else, coresidency increases the happiness of the elderly by about 28 percent. Moreover, the unobserved characteristics that drive coresidency are highly detrimental to the happiness of the elderly.
    Keywords: coresidency, happiness, ethnicity, Minzu, global life satisfaction, elders, living arrangements, China Household Ethnicity Survey, China
    JEL: D13 J12 J14 J15
    Date: 2014–05
  4. By: David Cutler; Wei Huang; Adriana Lleras-Muney
    Abstract: Using Eurobarometer data, we document large variation across European countries in education gradients in income, self-reported health, life satisfaction, obesity, smoking and drinking. While this variation has been documented previously, the reasons why the effect of education on income, health and health behaviors varies is not well understood. We build on previous literature documenting that cohorts graduating in bad times have lower wages and poorer health for many years after graduation, compared to those graduating in good times. We investigate whether more educated individuals suffer smaller income and health losses as a result of poor labor market conditions upon labor market entry. We confirm that a higher unemployment rate at graduation is associated with lower income, lower life satisfaction, greater obesity, more smoking and drinking later in life. Further, education plays a protective role for these outcomes, especially when unemployment rates are high: the losses associated with poor labor market outcomes are substantially lower for more educated individuals. Variation in unemployment rates upon graduation can potentially explain a large fraction of the variance in gradients across different countries.
    JEL: I12 I20 J11
    Date: 2014–05
  5. By: Heinz Welsch (University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics); Susana Ferreira (University of Georiga)
    Abstract: Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the use of subjective well-being data in environmental economics. This article discusses the conceptual underpinnings of using such data as a tool for preference elicitation and non-market valuation. Given the connection of those data to the notion of experienced utility, we refer to this approach as the experienced preference method and discuss recent methodological advances and applications of the approach to subject areas not previously reviewed. In addition, we discuss insights concerning environmental behavior that can be gained with the help of subjective well-being data.
    Date: 2014–05
  6. By: Feldman, Anat
    Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the linkage between Fitness, Nutrition and Mind for our Well-being, Abundance and Health. This study aimed to inspire each individual to seek health the way that suits him, while taking into consideration "all area of life" and the strong rapport between three components that determent our health: fitness- "work-out", nutrition-"eating smart" and mind- "work-in" mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The work, a product of more than ten years of practicing the GymindTM method (combining Gymnastics and Mind) learned how the right "usage" of all three components is the key for best physical and mental health of the self, according to his or her goals in life. Researches and recent fitness-nutrition-mind studies formed the grounds of this work, along with studies of the subconscious mind such as NLP, EFT, Time-line-therapy, hypnotherapy and Theta-Healing, in order to look over the body-mind connection for therapy and personal growth. The field of "discourse analysis" (mainly a la Perelman's new rhetoric) served at times as a tool to present a thesis and ease the connection of all components of this interdisciplinary study. Personal stories, presented in italic and painted in grey reveal the path of 17 individuals, (not all present in this article) varied in age (adults and children), gender and goals in life, consistently emerged throughout the study. They all agreed to reveal their own fitness-nutrition-mind experience (they have been embracing over the years as my patients), in order to convey a strong message, tips and guidelines about changing bad habits, embrace an active life-style, making healthier nutritional choices, improving self-image, getting stronger physically and mentally, heal themselves and find spiritual growth. They all mainly provide an inspiration for us to find our own finest path, know ourselves better and mainly take charge over our life and take action towards Well-being, Abundance and Health.
    Keywords: Fitness, Nutrition, Mind, Health, Body-Mind connection, subconscious-mind.
    JEL: Z00
    Date: 2014
  7. By: Matthias Opfinger
    Abstract: The European Union emphasizes the advantages arising from diversity. However, economic studies prove that diversity can lead to detrimental outcomes, ultimately resulting in lower well-being. This paper assesses the direct link between well-being and diversity within a society, in terms of ethnicity, language, and religion. I find that ethnic diversity is linearly and positively related to happiness and life satisfaction. The other dimensions of social diversity and well-being are related in a U-shape. At low levels of diversity an increase reduces well-being. The relationship becomes positive only if diversity is sufficiently high. I argue that a threat to the dominant position of one group prevents the formation of a common identity. If diversity is sufficiently high, the groups have to establish contact which reduces prejudices and helps to form a common identity.
    Keywords: Social Diversity, Common Identity, Group Threat, Tolerant Societies
    JEL: I3 Z1
    Date: 2014
  8. By: Pawlowski, Tim; Schüttoff, Ute; Downward, Paul; Lechner, Michael
    Abstract: Previous research suggests that sports club participation of children in developed countries positively influences the children’s well-being, health as well as human and social capital. We use panel data of a cohort of 1,579 children in Ethiopia and Peru to test these relationships in less developed countries where access to work might be only to manual labor, access to education is more limited and daily-survival activities demand high physical energy. By exploiting the panel structure of our data in a specific way, we suggest that the effects flexibly estimated by propensity score matching are close to having a causal interpretation. The findings suggest that the impact of programs, such as those provided in sport, can have positive developmental impacts for children, for example, on human and social capital, but that the results vary by context.
    Keywords: Social capital, Human capital, Well-being, Health, Group participation, Sports
    JEL: C14 D12 I21 J24
    Date: 2014–05
  9. By: Milazzo, Annamaria
    Abstract: Strong boy-bias and its consequences for young and unborn girls have been widely documented for Asia. This paper considers a country in Sub-Saharan Africa and finds that parental gender preferences do affect fertility behavior and shape traditional social institutions with negative effects on adult women's health and well-being. Using individual-level data for Nigeria, the paper shows that, compared to women with first-born sons, women with first-born daughters have (and desire) more children and are less likely to use contraceptives. Women with daughters among earlier-born children are also more likely to have shorter birth intervals, a behavior medically known to increase the risk of child and maternal mortality. Moreover, they are more likely to end up in a polygynous union, to be divorced, and to be head of the household. The preference for sons is also supported by child fostering patterns in which daughters are substitutes for foster girls, while the same does not hold for sons and foster boys. These results can partly explain excess female mortality among adult women in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Keywords: Population Policies,Gender and Law,Gender and Health,Adolescent Health,Population&Development
    Date: 2014–05–01
  10. By: Collier, Paul; Venables, Anthony J.
    Abstract: The accumulation of decent housing matters both because of the difference it makes to living standards and because of its centrality to economic development. The consequences for living standards are far-reaching. In addition to directly conferring utility, decent housing improves health and enables children to do homework. It frees up women's time and enables them to participate in the labor market. More subtly, a home and its environs affect identity and self-respect. Commentary on the emergence of an African middle class has become common, but it is being defined in terms of discretionary spending and potential for consumer markets. A politically more salient definition of a middle class will be in terms of home ownership and the consequent stake in economic stability. This paper examines why such a process has not happened in Africa. The hypothesis is that the peculiarity of housing exposes it to multiple points of vulnerability not found together either in private consumer goods or in other capital goods. Each point of vulnerability can be addressed by appropriate government policies, but addressing only one or two of them has little payoff if the others remain unresolved. Further, the vulnerabilities faced by housing are the responsibility of distinct branches of government, with little natural collaboration. Unblocking multiple impediments to housing therefore requires coordination that can come only from the head of government: ministries of housing have neither the political weight nor the analytic capacity to play this role effectively. Yet in Africa, housing has never received such high political priority. This in turn is because the centrality of housing in well-being and of housing investment in development has not been sufficiently appreciated.
    Keywords: Housing&Human Habitats,Public Sector Economics,Debt Markets,Access to Finance,Urban Housing
    Date: 2014–05–01
  11. By: Jeste, Dilip V (University of California, San Diego); Oswald, Andrew J (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Objective - Although human aging is characterized by loss of fertility and progressive decline in physical abilities, later life is associated with better psychological health and well-being. Furthermore, there has been an unprecedented increase in average lifespan over the past century without corresponding extensions of fertile and healthy age spans. We propose a possible explanation for these paradoxical phenomena. Method - We reviewed the relevant literature on aging, well-being, and wisdom. Results - An increase in specific components of individual wisdom in later life may make up for the loss of fertility as well as declining physical health. However, current data on the relationship between aging and individual wisdom are not consistent, and do not explain increased longevity in the general population during the past century. We propose that greater societal wisdom (including compassion) may account for the notable increase in average lifespan over the last century. Data in older adults with serious mental illnesses are limited, but suggest that many of them too experience improved psychosocial functioning, although their longevity has not yet increased, suggesting persistent stigma against mental illness and inadequate societal compassion. Conclusions - Research should focus on the reasons for discrepant findings related to age-associated changes in different components of individual wisdom; also, more work is needed on the construct of societal wisdom. Studies of wisdom and well-being are warranted in older people with serious mental illnesses, along with campaigns to enhance societal compassion for these disenfranchised individuals. Finally, effective interventions to enhance wisdom need to be developed and tested. Key words: Life-cycle happiness ; subjective well-being ; wisdom ; psychiatry ; U shape JEL classification: I31 ; D01 ; C18
    Date: 2014

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