nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2014‒09‒05
six papers chosen by

  1. Minorities in Rural China: Poorer but Inherently Happier? By John Knight; Li Shi; Yuan Chang
  2. Treatment Effects on Combined Outcomes: An Application to Health-related Quality-of-life Data By Ian M. McCarthy
  3. Does Labor Legislation Benefit Workers? Well-Being after an Hours Reduction By Daniel S. Hamermesh; Daiji Kawaguchi; Jungmin Lee
  4. Social fairness and sustainability of economic productivity By Mihai, Iris
  5. Online networks and subjective well-being By Sabatini, Fabio; Sarracino, Francesco
  6. The happiness of economists: Estimating the causal effect of studying economics on subjective well-being By Haucap, Justus; Heimeshoff, Ulrich

  1. By: John Knight; Li Shi; Yuan Chang
    Abstract: This is a pioneering study of the determinants of the subjective well-being of ethnic minority people in rural China, using a specially designed sample survey relating to 2011. The underlying hypothesis is that the lifestyle and attitudes of ethnic minorities contribute to their happiness. Five related hypotheses are tested. The minority group is equally happy as the Han group. However, whereas minorities’ much lower income reduces their happiness, this disadvantage is neutralised by their greater inherent capacity for happiness - much of it derived from personal relationships but not, it seems, from lesser materialism or concentrated living together. There is evidence of considerable heterogeneity in happiness across various ethnic minorities. Suggestions are made for further research, including analysis of the (positive) effects of lifestyle against the (negative) effects of perceived discrimination. There is a deeper question with which the paper connects: if subjective well-being is accepted as a criterion for social evaluation, does economic development produce cultural change for the better or for the worse?
    Keywords: China; Culture; Ethnic minorities; Happiness function; Lifestyle; Subjective well-being
    JEL: I31 J15 Z10
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Ian M. McCarthy
    Abstract: A variety of empirical techniques now exist to estimate average treatment effects when treatment participation is subject to selection on observed variables. Applied researchers often adopt these same tools for combined outcomes, in which the ultimate outcome of interest is formed as some combination of two or more underlying outcome variables. The current paper illustrates that an analysis based solely on the combined outcome yields biased treatment effects estimates when the underlying outcome variables are discrete. This is particularly relevant in the assessment of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), which are formed in-part by aggregating a multivariate health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) profile into a single summary score. The analysis adopts an alternative two-step estimator that first estimates the treatment effect on each individual outcome and then reinterprets the treatment effect in terms of the combined outcome based on predicted values from the first-stage regressions. Focusing on HRQoL outcomes, the two-stage estimator is shown to restore the unbiased estimation of treatment effects on the combined outcome under a variety of alternative data generating processes. An application to the study of HRQoL outcomes following complex spine surgery is also provided.
    Date: 2014–08
  3. By: Daniel S. Hamermesh; Daiji Kawaguchi; Jungmin Lee
    Abstract: Are workers in modern economies working “too hard”—would they be better off if an equilibrium with fewer work hours were achieved? We examine changes in life satisfaction of Japanese and Koreans over a period when hours of work were cut exogenously because employers suddenly faced an overtime penalty that had become effective with fewer weekly hours per worker. Using repeated cross sections we show that life satisfaction in both countries may have increased relatively among those workers most likely to have been affected by the legislation. The same finding is produced using Korean longitudinal data. In a household model estimated over the Korean cross-section data we find some weak evidence that a reduction in the husband’s work hours increased his wife’s well-being. Overall these results are consistent with the claim that legislated reductions in work hours can increase workers’ happiness.
    JEL: E24 J23
    Date: 2014–08
  4. By: Mihai, Iris
    Abstract: Economic productivity is a complex phenomenon that serves to highlight how efficient an economic process is. However, the existing paradigms for measuring productivity are not coherent, presenting us with a heterogeneous concept too scattered to prove significant for the policy makers. In this paper, we focus on the social implications of the economic development in our attempt to design an adequate measuring methodology able to capture the impact of the continuously growing productivity upon the quality of life in the selected countries. The research is based on statistical data provided by EU KLEMS, The World Bank, Eurostat and The New Maddison Project. The countries chosen for the empirical analysis belong to two groups: Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden). The research is based on input-output indexes used to emphasize productivity, together with its social fairness component and its sustainability over time. The fundamental research hypothesis of this paper is whether the current economic productivity, socially adjusted by GINI, is sustainable. The secondary hypothesis is whether high levels of economic productivity represent a strong enough incentive to countervail the limited biocapacity of a country. The empirical analysis will answer both questions, highlighting the importance of the ecological reserves and the importance of addressing productivity also from a social and an environmental perspective, and not only the obsolete economic perspective.
    Keywords: economic productivity, social fairness, biocapacity, sustainability
    Date: 2014–08–15
  5. By: Sabatini, Fabio; Sarracino, Francesco
    Abstract: We argue that the use of online networks may threaten subjective well-being in several ways, due to the inherent attributes of Internet-mediated interaction and through its effects on social trust and sociability. We test our hypotheses on a representative sample of the Italian population. We find a significantly negative correlation between online networking and well-being. This result is partially confirmed after accounting for endogeneity. We explore the direct and indirect effects of the use of social networking sites (SNS) on well-being in a SEM analysis. We find that online networking plays a positive role in subjective well-being through its impact on physical interactions, whereas SNS use is associated with lower social trust. The overall effect of networking on individual welfare is significantly negative.
    Keywords: social participation; online networks; Facebook; social trust; social capital; subjective well-being; hate speech; broadband; digital divide
    JEL: O32 O33 Z13
    Date: 2014–08–25
  6. By: Haucap, Justus; Heimeshoff, Ulrich
    Abstract: This is the first paper that studies the causal effect of studying economics on subjective well being. Based on a survey among 918 students of economics and other social sciences, we estimate the effects of studying in the different fields on individual life satisfaction. Controling for personal characteristics we apply innovative instrumental variable methods developed in labor and conflict economics. We find a positive relationship between the study of economics and individual well-being. Additionally, we also find that income and future job chances are the most important drivers of happiness for participants of our survey. --
    Keywords: Happiness,Life Satisfaction,Economists,Students,Economics Education
    JEL: A11 A13 I21 I31
    Date: 2014

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