nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2015‒12‒08
five papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Work-family Conflict Moderates the Impact of Childbearing on Subjective Well-Being By Anna Matysiak; Letizia Mencarini; Daniele Vignoli
  2. Do People Seek to Maximize Their Subjective Well-Being? By Marc Fleurbaey; Hannes Schwandt
  3. Measuring Multidimensional Inequality in the OECD Member Countries with a Distribution-Sensitive Better Life Index By Koen Decancq
  4. Exploring the Effect of Urban Structure on Individual Well-Being By Zachary S. Brown; Walid Oueslati; Jérôme Silva
  5. Are the effects of height on well-being a tall tale? By Kevin Denny

  1. By: Anna Matysiak; Letizia Mencarini; Daniele Vignoli
    Abstract: Many empirical studies find parents to be less happy than non-parents and parenthood to exert a negative effect on subjective well-being (SWB). We add to these findings by arguing that there is a key moderating factor that has been overlooked in previous research, the work-family conflict. In this paper we assesses the effect of parenthood on individuals’ SWB, taking into account that the birth of a child means an increase in work-family tensions, which may be substantial for some parents and relatively weak for others. To this end, we estimate fixed-effects models using panel data from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. We find that childbearing negatively affects SWB only when parents, and mothers, in particular, have to face a heavy work-family conflict.
    Keywords: work-family conflict, reconciliation of work and family, subjective well-being, life-satisfaction, Australia.
    JEL: I31 J13 J22
    Date: 2015
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:cca:wpaper:435&r=hap
  2. By: Marc Fleurbaey; Hannes Schwandt
    Abstract: In a new survey we ask respondents, after a standard Subjective Well-Being (SWB) question, if they can think of changes in their lives that would improve their SWB score. If the SWB score is just one argument among others in the respondents' goals in life, they should easily find ways to improve it, at the expense of other dimensions they care about. Our results suggest that close to 90% of the respondents actually seek to maximize their SWB. The life satisfaction question appears the best contender as the "maximand" in the contest, before the ladder-of-life question and felt happiness. Among the other goals that people pursue and for which they are willing to sacrifice some of their SWB, the prominent appear to be about their relatives and about their future self.
    Keywords: Subjective well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, life goals, utility
    JEL: D03 D60
    Date: 2015–11
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1391&r=hap
  3. By: Koen Decancq
    Abstract: The Better Life Index was introduced by the OECD as a tool to chart the multidimensional well-being of its member countries. However, the Better Life Index relies only on aggregate country-level indicators, and hence is insensitive to how multidimensional well-being is distributed within countries. This paper discusses how a distribution-sensitive Better Life Index could be designed. A broad family of distribution-sensitive Better Life Indices is discussed and decomposed in interpretable building blocks. While a rich and comprehensive micro-level data set is necessary to implement the distribution-sensitive Better Life Index, no such data set is currently available for all OECD member countries. The paper constructs therefore a 'synthetic' data set that relies on information about macro-level indicators and micro-level data from the Gallup World Poll. The implementation of the distribution-sensitive Better Life Index is illustrated with this synthetic data set. The illustration indicates that, when taking the distribution of well-being into account, Nordic countries are top-ranked whereas Greece, the Russian Federation and Turkey occupy the bottom positions. The results indicate considerable losses due to multidimensional inequality for OECD member countries. In addition, sizeable differences are found in the level and composition of multidimensional inequality.
    Keywords: Better Life Index, Multidimensional well-being, Multidimensional inequality
    JEL: I31 C43 O1
    Date: 2015–11
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:hdl:wpaper:1505&r=hap
  4. By: Zachary S. Brown; Walid Oueslati; Jérôme Silva
    Abstract: Building on the OECD’s Better Life Initiative and new work using geospatial analysis, this paper investigates how reported life satisfaction relates to some of the urban structure indicators. To this end, it merges OECD household survey data with urban structure data from OECD’s Metropolitan Database, which includes a number of city-level indicators such as population and road density, as well as localised measures of land-use. The merged data permit analysis for five countries: France, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The findings from this analysis provide some evidence of a trade-off between home size and distance to the city centre, although the statistical power of this effect is relatively weak. Interestingly, regression analysis suggests that overall city-level compactness has a clear negative relationship with life satisfaction, regardless of whether individuals live in the urban core or in peri-urban areas. Land-use fragmentation is also found to have a negative relationship with individuals’ life satisfaction. These general patterns are for the most part robust to various statistical tests. They also hold when econometric analysis is conducted at the country level. Residents of cities with greater levels of centralisation – i.e. a greater share of the population living in the city centre – exhibit measurably lower levels of life satisfaction. A naïve interpretation of this result would suggest that anti-sprawl policies do not in fact improve overall welfare. This study does not support this conclusion. It does, however, give cause for consideration before accepting ‘win-win’ arguments for ‘smart growth,’ often brought forward to support increasingly concentrated, high-density development. The evidence presented here suggests that such policies are not without their welfare trade-offs, and that there will be winners and losers from their implementation. While high-density policies can clearly make a positive contribution to reducing local and global environmental externalities, many of these benefits are deferred and may largely accrue to future generations. A key general lesson from this study is that compensation of the losers may improve the equity effects of these policies, as well as prove more expeditious from a political economy perspective. One of the simplest approaches to compensation would be to balance pecuniary incentives for smart growth, such as higher development taxes or fees, with compensatory policies, such as subsidies or tax or fee offsets in other domains. The main policy conclusion from this study is that smart growth policies should include distributional analysis and recommendations for addressing concerns about inequalities flowing from the scoping and implementation of policies.<BR>En s’appuyant sur l’initiative du Vivre mieux de l’OCDE et sur les nouveaux travaux fondés sur des analyses géospatiales, ce rapport étudie les relations entre le niveau de satisfaction déclaré par les ménages et certains des indicateurs de structure urbaine. Pour ce faire, il croise les données d’enquête ménages de l’OCDE et les données sur la structure urbaine tirées de la base de données métropolitaines de l’OCDE, qui réunit plusieurs indicateurs urbains tels que les densités démographique et routière, et des mesures localisées de l’occupation des sols. Ce travail a permis de produire des analyses pour cinq pays : l’Espagne, la France, le Japon, les Pays-Bas et la Suède. Les résultats de ces analyses confirment qu’il existe une relation inverse entre la taille des logements et l’éloignement du centre-ville, même si la significativité statistique de cet effet est relativement faible. Notons aussi que l’analyse empirique révèle l’existence d’une corrélation négative incontestable entre la compacité urbaine et la satisfaction à l’égard de la vie, que l’on habite au coeur des villes ou en périphérie. Même constat en ce qui concerne la fragmentation urbaine. Ces schémas généraux sont pour la plupart validés par différents tests statistiques et confirmés à l’échelle de chaque pays. Les habitants des villes dont le niveau de centralisation est plus élevé – en d’autres termes, les villes où la part de la population vivant dans le centre est supérieure – affichent un niveau de satisfaction à l’égard de la vie bien plus faible. Une interprétation naïve de ce résultat consisterait à dire que les mesures visant à lutter contre l’étalement urbain n’améliorent pas le bien-être global. Le présent rapport ne soutient pas cette conclusion. En effet, ce constat empirique révèle plutôt qu’il est nécessaire d’arrêter de retenir les arguments « gagnant-gagnant » en faveur de la « croissance intelligente », souvent mis en avant pour soutenir un développement urbain favorable à une concentration et une densité de plus en plus fortes. Les constatations présentées dans le présent document font apparaître que ces politiques ne présentent pas que des avantages en termes de bien-être, et que leur mise en oeuvre profitera à certains individus au détriment des autres. Si les politiques en faveur d’une haute densité urbaine peuvent avoir un impact positif en réduisant les externalités environnementales à l’échelle locale et mondiale, nombre de leurs avantages sont différés dans le temps et ne profiteront sans doute en grande partie qu’aux générations futures. L’un des enseignements essentiels à tirer de cette étude tient au fait que l’on pourrait améliorer l’équité des politiques urbaines en offrant une compensation aux individus lésés par ces mesures. L’une des méthodes les plus simples consisterait à équilibrer les incitations pécuniaires en faveur d’une croissance intelligente en introduisant des dispositifs compensatoires tels que des subventions, des taxes ou des redevances dans d’autres domaines. Ce n’est qu’un exemple parmi tout un éventail de mesures possibles. Enfin, la conclusion principale à tirer sur le plan de l’action publique consiste à dire que les mesures en faveur d’une croissance intelligente devraient comporter une analyse des effets redistributifs ainsi que des recommandations pour faire face aux problèmes d’inégalités lors de leur cadrage et de leur mise en oeuvre.
    Keywords: compactness, land use, life satisfaction, satisfaction de la vie
    JEL: I31 Q51 Q56 R13 R14
    Date: 2015–12–03
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:oec:envaaa:95-en&r=hap
  5. By: Kevin Denny (School of Economics and Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin)
    Abstract: Numerous papers have documented a positive association between height and good physical health and also with good economic outcomes such as earnings. A smaller number have argued for an association with well-being. In this paper, cross-country data from Europe is used to analyse whether individuals’ height is associated with higher or lower levels of life-satisfaction. In simple models there is a positive but concave relationship between height and life satisfaction. However it is shown that the results are quite sensitive to the inclusion of controls reflecting demographics, human capital and health status. Where effects do exist, it is predominantly at low to medium levels of height. There is also evidence of heterogeneity across countries.
    Keywords: height, stature, well-being, life satisfaction, health
    JEL: I31
    Date: 2015–12–01
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201522&r=hap

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