nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2016‒07‒09
eight papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Without My medal on My Mind: Counterfactual Thinking and Other Determinants of Athlete Emotions By Paul Dolan; Chloe Foy; Georgios Kavetsos; Laura Kudrna
  2. FESSUD Finance and Well-being Survey; Report By Ana C. Santos; Claudia Lopes; Vânia Costa
  3. Is Childcare Bad for the Mental Health of Grandparents? Evidence from SHARE By Brunello, Giorgio; Rocco, Lorenzo
  4. Intensive Mothering and Well-being: The Role of Education and Child Care Activity By Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio; Sevilla, Almudena
  5. Valuing Air Quality Using Happiness Data: The Case of China By Zhang, Xin; Zhang, Xiaobo; Chen, Xi
  6. Improving access to microcredit in Benin: are the poor and women benefiting? By Djossou, Gbètoton Nadège Adèle; Monwanou, Djohodo Ines; Novignon, Jacob
  7. Mind the Gap: Identifying Latent Objective and Subjective Multi-dimensional Indices of Well-Being By Luisa Corrado; Giuseppe De Michele
  8. Slower Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being in the Canadian Context: A Discussion Paper By Mike Pennock

  1. By: Paul Dolan; Chloe Foy; Georgios Kavetsos; Laura Kudrna
    Abstract: How achievement makes people feel depends upon counterfactual thoughts about what could have been. One body of evidence for this comes from studies of observer ratings of Olympians' happiness, which suggests that category-based counterfactual thoughts affect the perceived happiness of Olympians. Silver medallists are less happy than bronze medallists, arguably because silver medallists think about how they could have won gold, and bronze medallists feel lucky to be on the podium at all. We contribute to this literature by showing that the effect of category-based counterfactual thoughts on Olympians' happiness depends on the margin by which athletes secured their medal. Although gold and bronze medallists appeared happier the better they performed, silver medallists were less happy when they were closer to winning gold. This suggests silver medallists feel disappointed relative to gold medallists but that bronzes do not feel particularly fortunate relative to non-medal winners. Teams were rated as happier than individual athletes and Olympians happier than Paralympians. Observers' ethnic and gender similarity to athletes negatively influence happiness ratings; whilst observers' self-reported happiness has a negligible effect on ratings. We integrate these findings with prior literature on counterfactual thinking and the determinants of happiness, and suggest avenues for future research.
    Keywords: counterfactual thinking, close calls, relative status, happiness, Olympic Games
    JEL: D60 I31
    Date: 2016–06
  2. By: Ana C. Santos (Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra, Portugal); Claudia Lopes (Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra, Portugal); Vânia Costa (Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra, Portugal)
    Abstract: The FESSUD Finance and Well-being Survey is part of the EU FP7 FESSUD project – Financialisation, Economy, Society and Sustainable Development. Taking the household as the main unit of analysis, the survey inquired about household sociodemographic characteristics, household income, household debt, household possessions of financial assets, perceived impact of household financial engagements, welfare provision, and perceived impact of the financial crisis and subjective well-being. It consisted of telephone interviews carried out in November and December 2014 with nationally random samples of households in five countries - Germany, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK - selected to be representative of different types of financial system and welfare regime in the EU. For each household, the questionnaire was applied to the individual within the household who declared he or she knew about and was coresponsible for making decisions about the finances of the household. The sample size in the countries ranged from 1300 for Portugal and 1501 for Poland and Sweden, with a total sample of 7009. The survey results indicate that financialisation amplifies extant inequality. In all the countries, household debt and financial assets are concentrated in higher-income households and tend to be a means through which this socioeconomic stratum strengthens its relative advantage. Countries with lower levels of socioeconomic development that have followed such unequal financialisation paths, such as Portugal and Poland, have become more exposed to financial and economic crises, with more detrimental and widespread effects on individual and household well-being.
    Keywords: financialisation, financial crisis, well-being, households, debt, financial assets, housing, Europe, inequality
    JEL: C83 D14 G10 G20 I31 I32 P16 P52 R21
    Date: 2016–01–30
  3. By: Brunello, Giorgio (University of Padova); Rocco, Lorenzo (University of Padova)
    Abstract: We estimate the causal effects of regular and occasional grandchild care on the depression of grandmothers and grandfathers, using data from the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe and an instrumental variables strategy which exploits the variation in the timing of interviews across individuals and the fact that childcare declines with the age of grandchildren. We find that 10 additional hours of childcare per month, a 31 percent increase with respect to the sample average, increases the probability of developing depressive symptoms by 3.0 to 3.2 percentage points for grandmothers and by 5.4 to 5.9 percentage points for grandfathers. These results suggest that policies that substitute informal with formal childcare can improve the mental wellbeing of grandparents.
    Keywords: childcare, grandparents, depression, Europe
    JEL: J13 I12
    Date: 2016–06
  4. By: Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio (University of Zaragoza); Sevilla, Almudena (Queen Mary, University of London)
    Abstract: The ideology of intensive mothering, whereby mother's time is thought of as crucial for child development, continues to be the dominant cultural framework in the United States. Yet there is little evidence about how mothers differ in their child care experiences from large representative surveys. We use data from the Well-being Module of the American Time Use Survey to understand emotions in mothering experiences, and how these vary by maternal educational attainment and the type of child care activity mothers engage in. We document that, compared to less-educated mothers, higher educated mothers report lower happiness and meaning, and higher levels of fatigue when engaging in mothering activities. The gap in momentary wellbeing among mothers across the educational distribution does not depend on the type of child care activity and suggests that intensive mothering practices are more likely to pressurize the most-educated women, who may subscribe to more time-intensive forms of mothering.
    Keywords: mothering, emotional well-being, education gradient, child care, ideology of intensive mothering, time use
    JEL: J10
    Date: 2016–06
  5. By: Zhang, Xin (Peking University); Zhang, Xiaobo (Peking University); Chen, Xi (Yale University)
    Abstract: This paper estimates the monetary value of cutting PM2.5, a dominant source of air pollution in China. By matching hedonic happiness in a nationally representative survey with daily air quality data according to exact dates and locations of interviews in China, we are able to estimate the relationship between local concentration of particulate matter and individual happiness. By holding happiness constant, we calculate the tradeoff between the reduction in particulate matter and income, essentially a happiness-based measure of willingness-to-pay for mitigating air pollution. We find that people on average are willing to pay ¥539 ($88, or 3.8% of annual household per capita income) for a 1 μg/m3 reduction in PM2.5 per year per person.
    Keywords: willingness to pay, hedonic happiness, air pollution, China
    JEL: Q51 Q53 I31
    Date: 2016–06
  6. By: Djossou, Gbètoton Nadège Adèle; Monwanou, Djohodo Ines; Novignon, Jacob
    Abstract: In February 2007, the Government of Benin set up a Microcredit Program to support the Poor (MPP). The main objective of this programme was to alleviate household poverty and particularly women through easy access to microcredit to start their own microenterprises. The objective of this paper was to assess the impact of the MPP on poverty and women empowerment in Benin. Our empirical strategy relies on comparing socioeconomic outcomes (poverty and gender inequality index) of individual with access to MPP and those without. Using data from the Beninese Household Survey (EMICoV: Enquête Modulaire Intégrée sur les Conditions de vie des Ménages) conducted by the National Institute of Statistics in 2011, we estimate the average treatment effect of the MPP using Propensity Score Matching (PSM). To measure poverty and gender inequality, we construct a composite indicator using various dimensions of wellbeing (e.g. Education, health, assets etc.). In general, the results showed a positive and significant impact of MPP on poverty. Women empowerment in health care access and assets ownership were positively impacted by MPP access. The results encourage further expansion of the MPP and to ensure effective as well as efficient implementation of the programme.
    Keywords: Microcredit, poverty, Women empowerment, Propensity Matching Score, Benin
    JEL: D6 D60 I3 I38
    Date: 2016–06–27
  7. By: Luisa Corrado (DEF and CEIS, Università di Roma "Tor Vergata" and University of Cambridge); Giuseppe De Michele (DEF, Università di Roma "Tor Vergata")
    Abstract: Within the OECD Better Life Initiative, the Better Life Index (BLI) represents a major attempt to measure well-being and societal progress beyond GDP, following up the recommendations outlined in the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission report. Using a Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) approach, we estimate BLI as a latent construct starting from eleven underlying dimensions of well-being. This method, based on variance-covariance matrices, allow us to study the interrelations and causal relationships across well-being determinants and across the underlying drivers of well-being. In our analysis we utilize two di¤erent comparable OECD datasets for the year 2012, one based on average country-level data re?ecting well-being outcomes, the other one on microdata re?ecting people?s stated preferences on well-being indicators. In order to deal with the idiosyncratic structures of the datasets, we apply two Structural Equation Modeling techniques ?bootstrapped SEM and Generalised SEM MIMIC-to estimate the relative weights and rankings of BLI dimensions. We then build an 'objective' BLI measure predicted from the national-level data, whereas a ?subjective? BLI is obtained using the new OECD microdata. Finally, we conclude our analysis comparing the objective and subjective BLI dimensions weights and country rankings and discussing the main policy implications.
    Keywords: Structural Equation Modeling, Latent Multidimensional Index, Beyond GDP, SubjectiveWell-Being Index, ObjectiveWell-Being Index, Stated Preference, Generalised SEM MIMIC, GSEM, Bootstrapped SEM, Small Sample Size, Weights.
    JEL: C43 C83 D12 I31
    Date: 2016–06–24
  8. By: Mike Pennock
    Abstract: Most mainstream forecasts for national economies expect that mature nations such as Canada will experience a few decades of slower economic growth, relative to past rates. This was reflected in the recent long-term forecast for the Canadian economy by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards. This transition is due to underlying demographic factors which are slowing labour force growth as well as slower rates of labour force productivity. Although there is a consensus among forecasters about the inevitability of slower growth there is less consensus about the magnitude of the change. This model suggests that countries such as Canada could enter into a prolonged period of slower growth without pronounced negative consequences for population well-being if other contributors to well-being are both protected and mobilized to offset the impacts of slower income growth. The most serious threat to wellbeing that is associated with the slow-growth scenario is an expected increase in income inequality and household debt. Canada may be particularly vulnerable to these effects because it is entering a slow growth era with relatively high levels of inequality and household debt, relative to most other mature nations.
    Keywords: Economic Growth, National Income, Household Income, Economic Development, Well-Being, Prosperity, Social Progress, Canada, Income Distribution, Income Inequality, Income Growth, Household Debt, Unemployment, Government Expenditures, 2008 Recession
    JEL: I31 O10 O15 O16 N32
    Date: 2016–07

This nep-hap issue is ©2016 by Viviana Di Giovinazzo. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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.