nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2015‒07‒18
seven papers chosen by

  1. When Experienced and Decision Utility Concur: The Case of Income Comparisons By Clark, Andrew E.; Senik, Claudia; Yamada, Katsunori
  2. Does Retirement Improve Health and Life Satisfaction? By Aspen Gorry; Devon Gorry; Sita Slavov
  3. Healthy(?), Wealthy and Wise: Birth Order and Adult Health By Sandra E. Black; Paul J. Devereux; Kjell G. Salvanes
  4. Historical Analysis of National Subjective Wellbeing Using Millions of Digitized Books By Hills, Thomas; Proto, Eugenio; Sgroi, Daniel
  5. What is the job satisfaction and active participation of medical staff in public hospital reform: a study in Hubei province of China By Pengqian Fang; Zhenni Luo; Zi Fang
  6. The Protestant Fiscal Ethic:Religious Confession and Euro Skepticism in Germany By Adrian Chadi; Matthias Krapf
  7. Human Development and Quality of Institutions in Highly Developed Countries By Adam P. Balcerzak; Micha³ Bernard Pietrzak

  1. By: Clark, Andrew E. (Paris School of Economics); Senik, Claudia (Paris School of Economics); Yamada, Katsunori (Kindai University)
    Abstract: While there is now something of a consensus in the literature on the economics of happiness that income comparisons to others help determine subjective wellbeing, debate continues over the relative importance of own and reference-group income, in particular in research on the Easterlin paradox. The variety of results in this domain have produced some scepticism regarding happiness analysis, and in particular with respect to the measurement of reference-group income. We here use data from an original Internet survey in Japan to compare the results from happiness regressions to those from hypothetical-choice experiments. The trade-off between own and others' income (showing the importance of absolute and relative income) is similar in these two sets of results. This kind of validation of experienced utility via direct comparison with decision utility remains rare in this literature.
    Keywords: satisfaction, income comparisons, reference-group income, discrete-choice experiments
    JEL: D31 D63 I3 J31
    Date: 2015–07
  2. By: Aspen Gorry; Devon Gorry; Sita Slavov
    Abstract: We utilize panel data from the Health and Retirement Study to investigate the impact of retirement on physical and mental health, life satisfaction, and health care utilization. Because poor health can induce retirement, we instrument for retirement using eligibility for Social Security and employer sponsored pensions and coverage by the Social Security earnings test. We find strong evidence that retirement improves both health and life satisfaction. While the impact on life satisfaction occurs within the first 4 years of retirement, many of the improvements in health show up 4 or more years later, consistent with the view that health is a stock that evolves slowly. We find little evidence that retirement influences health care utilization.
    JEL: I10 I31 J26
    Date: 2015–07
  3. By: Sandra E. Black; Paul J. Devereux; Kjell G. Salvanes
    Abstract: While recent research finds strong evidence that birth order affects children’s outcomes such as education, IQ scores, and earnings, the evidence for effects on health is more limited. This paper uses a large dataset on the population of Norway and focuses on the effect of birth order on a range of health and health-related behaviors, outcomes not previously available in datasets of this magnitude. Interestingly, we find complicated effects of birth order. First-borns are more likely to be overweight, to be obese, and to have high blood pressure and high triglycerides. So, unlike education or earnings, there is no clear first-born advantage in health. However, later-borns are more likely to smoke and have poorer self-reported physical and mental health. They are also less likely to report that they are happy. We find that these effects are largely unaffected by conditioning on education and earnings, suggesting that these are not the only important pathways to health differentials by birth order. When we explore possible mechanisms, we find that smoking early in pregnancy is more prevalent for first pregnancies than for later ones. However, women are more likely to quit smoking during their first pregnancy than during later ones, and first-borns are more likely to be breast-fed. These findings suggest a role for early maternal investment in determining birth order effects on health.
    JEL: I1 J1
    Date: 2015–07
  4. By: Hills, Thomas (University of Warwick); Proto, Eugenio (University of Warwick); Sgroi, Daniel (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We present the first attempt to construct a long-run historical measure of subjective wellbeing using language corpora derived from millions of digitized books. While existing measures of subjective wellbeing go back to at most the 1970s, we can go back at least 200 years further using our methods. We analyse data for six countries (the USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). To highlight some results, we find a positive short-run effect for GDP and life expectancy on subjective wellbeing. An increase of 1% life expectancy is equivalent to more than 5% increase in yearly GDP. One year of internal conflict costs the equivalent of a 50% drop in GDP per year in terms of subjective wellbeing. Public debt, on the other hand, has a short-run positive effect. Our estimated index of subjective wellbeing generally does not feature any positive trend, which is consistent with the Easterlin paradox, although we caution against long term analysis given the historical variation of written texts (which parallel similar issues with historical GDP statistics).
    Keywords: historical subjective wellbeing, big data, Google books, GDP, conflict
    JEL: N3 N4 O1 D6
    Date: 2015–07
  5. By: Pengqian Fang; Zhenni Luo; Zi Fang
    Abstract: Background: In China, public hospital reform has been underway for almost 5 years, and 311 pilot county hospitals are the current focus. This study aimed to assess the job satisfaction and active participation of medical staff in the reform. A total of 2268 medical staff members in pilot and non-pilot county hospitals in Hubei, China, were surveyed. Methods: Questionnaires were used to collect data. The Pearson chi-square statistical method was used to assess the differences between pilot and non-pilot county hospitals and identify the factors related to job satisfaction as well as the understanding and perception of the reform. Binary logistic regression was performed to determine the significant factors that influence the job satisfaction of medical staff in pilot county hospitals. Results: Medical staff members in pilot county hospitals expressed higher satisfaction on current working situation, performance appraisal system, concern showed by leaders, hospital management, and compensation packages (P < 0.05). They were exposed to work-related stress at a higher extent (P < 0.05) and half of them worked overtime. Within pilot county hospitals, less than half of the medical staff members were satisfied with current job and they have evidently less satisfaction on compensation packages and learning and training opportunities. The working hours and work stress were negatively related to the job satisfaction (P < 0.05). Satisfaction on the performance appraisal system, hospital management, compensation packages, and learning and training opportunities were positively related to job satisfaction (P < 0.05). Medical staff in pilot county hospitals exhibited better understanding of and more positive attitude towards the reform (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Pilot county hospitals have implemented some measures through the reform, but there still are deficiencies. The government officials and hospital administrators should pay attention to influencing factors of job satisfaction and focus on the reasonable demands of medical staff. In addition, the medical staff in pilot county hospitals exhibited a better understanding of the public hospital reform programme and showed more firm confidence, but there still were some medical staff members who hold negative attitude. The publicity and education of the public hospital reform still need improvement. Keywords: Medical staff, China, Public hospital reform, Working situation, Satisfaction, Understanding, Perception
    Keywords: Medical staff; China; public hospital reform; working situation; satisfaction; understanding; perception
    JEL: R14 J01
    Date: 2015
  6. By: Adrian Chadi (Institute for Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the EU, University of Trier); Matthias Krapf (Université de Lausanne)
    Abstract: During the European sovereign debt crisis, most countries that ran into fiscal trouble had Catholic majorities, whereas countries with Protestant majorities were able to avoid fiscal problems. Survey data show that, within Germany, views on the euro differ between Protestants and Non-Protestants, too. Among Protestants, concerns about the euro have, compared to Non-Protestants, increased during the crisis, and significantly reduce their subjective wellbeing only. We use the timing of survey interviews and news events in 2011 to account for the endogeneity of euro concerns. Emphasis on moral hazard concerns in Protestant theology may, thus, still shape economic preferences.
    Keywords: protestantism, euro crisis, subjective wellbeing, media coverage
    JEL: E00 I31 L82 Z12
    Date: 2015–06
  7. By: Adam P. Balcerzak (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland); Micha³ Bernard Pietrzak (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland)
    Abstract: The article concentrates on the problem of influence of quality of institutional system in the context of utilizing the potential of knowledge-based economy on the human development in highly developed countries. In order to measure the quality of institutional system a synthetic measure based on multivariate analysis techniques was proposed. To obtain the institutional measure TOPSIS method was applied. To quantify the institutional factors the data from Fraser Institute was used. As diagnostic variables of quality of institutions 29 variables qualified to four aspects of national institutional systems were used: a) formal regulations influencing entrepreneurship; b) effectiveness of juridical system in keeping low level of transaction costs and supporting effectiveness of market mechanism; c) competitive pressure and effectiveness of labour markets; d) financial markets institutions as a stimulator of development of enterprises with high growth potential. Human Development Index proposed within United Nations Development Programme was used for measuring the quality of life. The estimation of relation between institutions and human development was made with econometric dynamic panel model. The estimation was made for 24 European Union countries for the years 2004-2010. The econometric analysis shows the positive influence of quality of institutions on human development in the context of knowledge-based economy in developed countries.
    Keywords: institutional economics, quality of institutions, Human Development Index, TOPSIS, panel analysis
    JEL: I31 O1 C38
    Date: 2015–07

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.