nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2016‒03‒06
eight papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Can Happiness Provide New Insights into Social Inequality? Evidence from Japan By Niimi, Yoko
  2. Prenatal testosterone exposure predicts mindfulness: Does this mediate its effect on happiness? By Neyse, Levent; Ring, Patrick; Bosworth, Steven
  3. Using the life satisfaction approach to value daylight savings time transitions. Evidence from Britain and Germany By Daniel Kuehnle; Christoph Wunder
  4. Distaste for centralization: evidence from a quasi-natural experiment in Switzerland By Sarah Flèche
  5. Moving to an earnings-related parental leave system – do heterogeneous effects on parents make some children worse off? By Katrin Huber
  6. Early maternal employment and non-cognitive outcomes in early childhood and adolescence: evidence from British birth cohort data By Warn N. Lekfuangfu; Nattavudh Powdthavee; Andrew E. Clark; George Ward
  7. An Asset-based Indicator of Wellbeing for a Unified Means Testing Tool: Money Metric or Counting Approach? By Martina Menon; Federico Perali; Eva Sierminska
  8. Well-being dynamics and poverty traps By Christopher Barrett; Teevrat Garg; Linden McBride

  1. By: Niimi, Yoko
    Abstract: This paper examines recent trends and determinants of happiness inequality in Japan using unique data from the "Preference Parameters Study of Osaka University" that was conducted annually in Japan during the 2003-2013 period. The data illustrate that, despite some fluctuations, Japan observed a fall in happiness inequality along with income growth during this period. By estimating Recentered Influence Function regressions, we find a negative and significant relationship between income level and happiness inequality, as found for other countries. The results also show that people's perception of their relative standing in the income spectrum matters for the level as well as the dispersion of happiness. Other key determinants of happiness inequality include the insecurity of jobs, unemployment, the fear of becoming unemployed in the near future, having health concerns, feeling a sense of loneliness, and the expected coverage of living costs by public pensions after retirement, all of which have a positive effect on happiness inequality except that the public pension variable negatively affects the dispersion of happiness. Our empirical analysis illustrates that happiness inequality is a useful addition to the set of conventional inequality indicators to monitor and better understand social inequality and to formulate measures to tackle inequality-related issues.
    Keywords: Happiness, Inequality, SocialProtection, SubjectiveWell-being
    JEL: D31 D63 H55 I31 I38
    Date: 2015–06
  2. By: Neyse, Levent; Ring, Patrick; Bosworth, Steven
    Abstract: This study investigates the connection between mindfulness and prenatal testosterone exposure and explores whether this is related to the relationship between mindfulness and human well-being as captured by three separate measures. In a sample of 90 German student participants, we find that subjects' digit ratio - a reliable indicator for exposure to prenatal testosterone - predicts their Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) scores. Respondents with moderate levels of testosterone exposure have the highest MAAS scores. We additionally elicit participants' self-reported general life satisfaction and current happiness levels as well as their estimates about others' general life satisfaction. We find that MAAS strongly predicts absolute and relative life satisfaction and also current happiness levels, but digit ratios do not mediate the relationship between human well-being and mindfulness.
    Keywords: Mindfulness,Digit ratio (2D:4D),Prenatal Testosterone,Life Satisfaction,Happiness
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Daniel Kuehnle; Christoph Wunder
    Abstract: Daylight savings time (DST) represents a public good with costs and benefits. We provide the first comprehensive examination of the welfare effects of the spring and autumn transitions for the UK and Germany. Using individual-level data and a regression discontinuity design, we estimate the effect of the transitions on life satisfaction. Our results show that individuals in both the UK and Germany experience deteriorations in life satisfaction in the first week after the spring transition. We find no effect of the autumn transition. We attribute the negative effect of the spring transition to the reduction in the time endowment and the process of adjusting to the disruption in circadian rhythms. The effects are particularly strong for individuals with young children in the household. We conclude that the higher the shadow price of time, the more difficult is adjustment. Presumably, an increase in flexibility to reallocate time could reduce the welfare loss for individuals with binding time constraints.
    Keywords: daylight savings time, life satisfaction, regression discontinuity, UK, Germany
    JEL: H41 I31
    Date: 2014–10
  4. By: Sarah Flèche
    Abstract: Do people care about the degree of centralization? This paper examines the effects of local centralization reforms on individuals' well-being using a quasi-natural experiment in Switzerland. The results reveal that centralization has a causal negative impact on individuals' life satisfaction. Consistent with the concept of procedural utility, centralization reduces individuals' feeling of having political influence and interest in politics. In contrast, there are no impacts on individuals' satisfaction with local governments' performance. These findings shed new light on what people value in decentralized institutions.
    Keywords: decentralization; life satisfaction; public spending; procedural utility
    JEL: H11 H40 I31
    Date: 2015–11
  5. By: Katrin Huber
    Abstract: Can moving to an earnings-related parental leave system influence children’s wellbeing and are heterogeneous effects on parents carried over to the entire family, making special groups of children worse off than others? To answer this question, this study exploits a large and unanticipated parental leave reform in Germany as a natural experiment. By replacing a means-tested by an earnings-related system the reform affected different groups of families to a variable extent. I detect significant negative effects on the personality of newborns whose families are subject to a nonpositive change in the overall benefit amount compared to the pre-reform situation. 2-3-year-old children belonging to the reform’s winners, however, improve their basic life skills and language skills.
    Keywords: Children’s Well-Being, Parental Leave, Heterogeneous Effects
    JEL: J13 J18 J22
    Date: 2015–08
  6. By: Warn N. Lekfuangfu; Nattavudh Powdthavee; Andrew E. Clark; George Ward
    Abstract: We analyse the relationship between early maternal employment and child emotional and behavioural outcomes in early childhood and adolescence. Using rich data from a cohort of children born in the UK in the early 1990s, we find little evidence of a strong statistical relationship between early maternal employment and any of the emotional outcomes. However, there is some evidence that children whose mother is in full-time employment at the 18th month have worse behavioural outcomes at ages 4, 7, and 12.We suggest that these largely insignificant results may in part be explained by mothers who return tofull-time work earlier being able to compensate their children: we highlight the role of fathers’ time investment and alternative childcare arrangements in this respect.
    Keywords: child outcomes; maternal employment; well-being; conduct; ALSPAC
    JEL: D1 I1 J6
    Date: 2015–10
  7. By: Martina Menon (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Federico Perali (Department of Economics (University of Verona)); Eva Sierminska (Liser)
    Abstract: Abstract As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, European member states have committed to modernizing and harmonizing their welfare systems and to improving the quality of the means testing tools adopted to correctly identify the beneficiaries of welfare policies. This study contributes to the literature on means testing by implementing and then comparing two alternative multidimensional targeting approaches: an asset-based money metric and a counting measurement of poverty. The two approaches aggregate poverty dimensions and differently implement inter-household comparisons of wellbeing. The study shows that in terms of targeting efficiency the approach based on the money metric is superior. The comparison is important from both an empirical and a policy point of view because a unified means testing tool would pave the way to harmonized welfare policies across European countries.
    Keywords: Means testing, multidimensional poverty, asset based poverty, wellbeing
    JEL: D13 H31 I32 O15
    Date: 2016–02
  8. By: Christopher Barrett; Teevrat Garg; Linden McBride
    Abstract: A sound understanding of poverty traps—defined as poverty that is self-reinforcing due to the poor’s equilibrium behaviors—and their underlying mechanisms is fundamentally important to the development of policies and interventions targeted to assist the poor and/or eradicate poverty. We review the theoretical and empirical evidence on single and multiple equilibria poverty traps at the macro, meso, and, especially, micro levels. In addition we review the literature exploring the various mechanisms that have been posited to perpetuate poverty. We find sufficient evidence to support the poverty traps hypothesis, suggesting that policies designed to interrupt those self-perpetuating mechanisms merit serious attention.
    Date: 2016–01

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