nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2015‒09‒18
six papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Happiness Inequality in China By Yang, Jidong; Liu, Kai; Zhang, Yiran
  2. The role of urban parks in cities' quality of life By S.Vieira Gomes; T. Florentino
  3. Effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Subjective Well-Being By Takuya Ishino; Akiko Kamesaka; Toshiya Murai; Masao Ogaki
  4. A New Cross-Country Measure of Material Wellbeing and Inequality: Methodology, Construction and Results By Arthur Grimes; Sean Hyland
  5. Superstitions, Street Traffic, and Subjective Well-Being By Michael L. Anderson; Fangwen Lu; Yiran Zhang; Jun Yang; Ping Qin
  6. Internet use and subjective well-being in China By Nie, Peng; Nimrod, Galit; Sousa-Poza, Alfonso

  1. By: Yang, Jidong; Liu, Kai; Zhang, Yiran
    Abstract: Along with China becoming an upper-middle-income country from a lower-middle-income one after 2009, the happiness inequality in China has been enlarged. Based on the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) database (2003-2012), this paper investigates the determinants of the happiness inequality in China and explores what factors contribute to its enlargement after 2009. We find that a rise of income inequality as well as the population share of middle age cohorts can widen China’s happiness inequality, while an increase in income or education level has a reducing impact. Owning a house and being in employment also have happiness inequality reducing impacts. A decomposition analysis shows that the deterioration of China’s happiness inequality is mainly caused by coefficient effects, i.e., the relationships between happiness inequality and its influencing factors have changed, which reflects the dramatic change in the Chinese economy and society. Among the coefficient effects, regional heterogeneity plays an important role. Policies enhancing economic performance and education as well as reducing income inequality and regional inequality can help to reduce happiness inequality and improve social harmony in China.
    Keywords: happiness inequality, income, income inequality, education, China
    JEL: I28 I31 J17 J21 J28
    Date: 2015–09–14
  2. By: S.Vieira Gomes; T. Florentino
    Abstract: The concerns on the preservation of the natural environment have focus mainly on large ecosystems protection. These areas are usually distant from the urban environment, where only relatively smaller natural spaces can survive. These small-scale green areas are often disregarded, when compared with the large ones, and many of their benefits are diminished. However, the urban nature provides important social and psychological benefits to human societies, which enrich human life. They provide spaces for social interaction, enhancing the community cohesion, while contributing for a healthier lifestyle. Another advantage is related to the air quality improvement and climate protection due to their ability to store carbon. Although public preferences for environmental attributes may vary among individual citizens according to their socio-economics characteristics and daily activities, these benefits are well recognized by most citizens, having clear consequences on housing choices. Furthermore, green spaces may be used as factors to increase the attractiveness of a city, by making the city green and pleasant. The main concern of this paper is to address the importance of green areas for the urban citizens, and to analyze their distribution in consolidated cities. A case study for the city of Lisbon, Portugal is presented, where spatial distribution, distance from residential areas and population satisfaction is analyzed, amongst other indicators.
    Keywords: Air Quality; Quality of Life; Urban Parks
    JEL: R3
    Date: 2015–07–01
  3. By: Takuya Ishino (Faculty of Economics, Kanazawa Seiryo University); Akiko Kamesaka (School of Business Administration, Aoyama Gakuin University); Toshiya Murai (Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University); Masao Ogaki (Faculty of Economics, Keio University)
    Abstract: Using a large panel data set that samples over 4000 Japanese, we analyze changes in people's subjective well-being (happiness) and altruistic worldview before and after the Great East Japan Earthquake. As a result we find that 1) more people replied that their happiness improved after the earthquake than said it worsened, and also that 2) many more Japanese people became more altruistic since the earthquake, even in the most affected areas. One possible interpretation of these results is that an increase in altruism due to the earthquake spurred people to give to charity, which in turn increased their happiness. Our regression analysis yields results that are consistent with this story.
    Keywords: subjective well-being, happiness, altruism, the Great East Japan Earthquake, disasters
    JEL: I18 I31 I38
    Date: 2014–12
  4. By: Arthur Grimes (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research); Sean Hyland (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)
    Abstract: This paper advances a new framework for defining a country’s material wellbeing based on the distribution of consumer durables, building on the recent material wellbeing literature that calls for an increased focus on both the level and the distribution of consumption and wealth. Our framework is demonstrated using household-level data from the OECD PISA surveys, from which triennial metrics are constructed consistently for 40 countries since 2000. Comparisons with income-based alternative metrics suggest that our consumption-based measure captures important aspects of material wellbeing at both the micro and the macro level. Differences between the two approaches is shown to be associated with life-cycle smoothing, an important aspect that should be captured in material wellbeing estimates.
    Keywords: Material wellbeing, quality of life, national accounts, cross-country analysis, distributions, inequality, household durables.
    JEL: D31 D63 I31 O57
    Date: 2015–07
  5. By: Michael L. Anderson; Fangwen Lu; Yiran Zhang; Jun Yang; Ping Qin
    Abstract: Congestion plays a central role in urban and transportation economics. Existing estimates of congestion costs rely on stated or revealed preferences studies. We explore a complementary measure of congestion costs based on self-reported happiness. Exploiting quasi-random variation in daily congestion in Beijing that arises because of superstitions about the number four, we estimate a strong effect of daily congestion on self-reported happiness. When benchmarking this effect against the relationship between income and self-reported happiness we compute implied congestion costs that are several times larger than conventional estimates. Several factors, including the value of reliability and externalities on non-travelers, can reconcile our alternative estimates with the existing literature.
    JEL: R41 R48
    Date: 2015–09
  6. By: Nie, Peng; Nimrod, Galit; Sousa-Poza, Alfonso
    Abstract: Using data from the 2010 China Family Panel Studies, we analyze the association between Internet use and various measures of subjective well-being (SWB) in a sample of 16- to 60- year-old Chinese. Our analysis shows that although intensive Internet use is significantly associated with lower levels of SWB, we hardly observe any associations when the focus is on participation in specific online activities. Nevertheless, SWB depends on perceptions of Internet use; that is, the importance that different individuals ascribe to different purposes for using the Internet and how much they believe that their Internet use is displacing other activities. Our results suggest that, contrary to previous findings, differences in beneficial outcomes (the third level digital divide) do not necessarily arise from individuals' actual Internet use (the second level digital divide) but rather may result from their subjective perceptions of such usage. Our findings also point to a possible cultural factor that puts Chinese Internet users at psychological risk.
    Keywords: China,digital divides,depression,happiness,Internet use,life satisfaction
    JEL: I10 D10 J10 Q53
    Date: 2015

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