nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2016‒08‒14
six papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Achievement Goal and Life Satisfaction: The Mediating Role of Perception of Successful Agency and the Moderating Role of Emotion Reappraisal By Wang, Wangshuai; Li, Jie; Sun, Gong; Zhang, Xin-an; Cheng, Zhiming
  2. The Costs to Life Satisfaction of Impression Management: The Sense of Control and Loneliness as Mediators By Wang, Wangshuai; Li, Jie; Sun, Gong; Zhang, Xin-an; Cheng, Zhiming
  3. Do Japanese Citizens Move to Rural Areas Seeking a Slower Life? Differences between Rural and Urban Areas in Subjective Well-Being By Sasaki, Hiroki
  4. Heads or Tails: The Impact of a Coin Toss on Major Life Decisions and Subsequent Happiness By Steven D. Levitt
  5. New Evidence on Trust and Well-being By John F. Helliwell; Haifang Huang; Shun Wang
  6. Territorial Unbalances in Quality of Life. A focus on Italian Inner and Rural Areas By Bertolini, P.; Pagliacci, F.

  1. By: Wang, Wangshuai; Li, Jie; Sun, Gong; Zhang, Xin-an; Cheng, Zhiming
    Abstract: Achievement goal is a cognitive representation that guides behavior to a competence-related future end state. Existing theories and empirical findings imply that achievement goal is potentially related to life satisfaction. However, the relationship between achievement goal and life satisfaction remains relatively unexplored in the psychology literature. In this study we examined how, and when, achievement goal affects life satisfaction, using original survey data from China. The results suggested that achievement goal was positively related to life satisfaction, that the perception of successful agency fully mediated the relationship between achievement goal and life satisfaction, and that emotion reappraisal moderated the relationship between achievement goal and life satisfaction. Our study helps reveal the positive influence of achievement goal on life satisfaction, and provides an understanding of the mechanism and boundary condition of this influence.
    Keywords: achievement goal, perception of successful agency, emotion reappraisal, life satisfaction
    JEL: I31 J28
    Date: 2016–08–04
  2. By: Wang, Wangshuai; Li, Jie; Sun, Gong; Zhang, Xin-an; Cheng, Zhiming
    Abstract: Impression management, or self-presentation, prevails in our daily lives. However, whether it enhances individuals’ happiness remains underexplored. This paper examines the relationship between impression management and life satisfaction, and whether the sense of control and loneliness mediate this relationship. Using original survey data, we found a negative association between impression management and life satisfaction. In addition, the association was fully mediated by the sense of control and loneliness. The study contributes to the literature on quality of life by highlighting the negative effect of impression management in predicting individuals’ life satisfaction. Implications of the findings for research and practice are discussed.
    Keywords: impression management; sense of control; loneliness; life satisfaction
    JEL: I31
    Date: 2016–08–07
  3. By: Sasaki, Hiroki
    Abstract: For some time, individuals in multiple contexts have been moving from rural to urban areas for economic reasons. In recent years, however, young people in Japan have been increasingly turning to rural areas to embrace a slower, less-hectic lifestyle. Despite this interesting development, researchers have thus far failed to identify determinants of residents’ well-being in rural and urban areas in Japan. Moreover, recent empirical work has shown that stated happiness or subjective well-being (SWB) can serve as an empirical proxy for perceived utility. To expand upon this line of research, in this paper, I use SWB to gauge disparities between the Japanese rural and urban environments. In addition, I determine how natural capital and social capital affect SWB for both rural and urban residents. Results show that on average, rural residents report higher SWB than urban residents despite low average income. I also identify multiple factors other than household income that affect SWB; these relationships are particularly pronounced for rural residents. Finally, results demonstrate that residents that migrate from urban to rural areas reported high levels of SWB. Taken together, the results of this study provide new insight into rural values and the attractiveness of rural residency.
    Keywords: happiness, subjective well-being, Natural Capital, Social Capital, Community/Rural/Urban Development, I31, D63, Q15,
    Date: 2016–07
  4. By: Steven D. Levitt
    Abstract: Little is known about whether people make good choices when facing important decisions. This paper reports on a large-scale randomized field experiment in which research subjects having difficulty making a decision flipped a coin to help determine their choice. For important decisions (e.g. quitting a job or ending a relationship), those who make a change (regardless of the outcome of the coin toss) report being substantially happier two months and six months later. This correlation, however, need not reflect a causal impact. To assess causality, I use the outcome of a coin toss. Individuals who are told by the coin toss to make a change are much more likely to make a change and are happier six months later than those who were told by the coin to maintain the status quo. The results of this paper suggest that people may be excessively cautious when facing life-changing choices.
    JEL: D12 D81
    Date: 2016–08
  5. By: John F. Helliwell; Haifang Huang; Shun Wang
    Abstract: This paper first uses data from three large international surveys – the Gallup World Poll, the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey – to estimate income-equivalent values for social trust, with a likely lower bound equivalent to a doubling of household income. Second, the more detailed and precisely measured trust data in the European Social Survey (ESS) show that social trust is only a part of the overall climate of trust. While social trust and trust in police are the most important elements, there are significant additional benefits from trust in three aspects of the institutional environment: the legal system, parliament and politicians. Thus estimates of the total well-being value of a trustworthy environment are larger than those based on social trust alone. Third, the ESS data show that living in a high-trust environment makes people more resilient to adversity. Being subject to discrimination, ill-health or unemployment, although always damaging to subjective well-being, is much less damaging to those living in trustworthy environments. These results suggest a fresh set of links between trust and inequality. Individuals who are subject to discrimination, ill-health or unemployment are typically concentrated towards the lower end of any national distribution of happiness. Thus the resilience-increasing feature of social trust reduces well-being inequality by channeling the largest benefits to those at the low end of the well-being distribution.
    JEL: I31 J15 O57
    Date: 2016–07
  6. By: Bertolini, P.; Pagliacci, F.
    Abstract: The Italian National Strategy for Inner Areas explicitly draws policymakers’ attention to inner municipalities. It stresses the importance of improving socio-economic conditions of people as the only way to reverse negative demographic trends in those areas. To this respect, improving quality of life (QoL) represents one of the key drivers. Given such an important policy implication, this work provides a statistical tool to measure existing gaps in QoL levels across Italian NUTS 3 regions, by explicitly disentangling urban and inner areas. Nevertheless, QoL is a multidimensional concept, thus a composite indicator is computed following a non-compensatory approach: the QoL Mazziotta-Pareto Index. Firstly, we consider the variability of the comprehensive indicator across Italy, with respect to the presence of inner areas. As a major result, this analysis seems breaking down the supposed negative relationship between QoL and presence of inner areas, which the paper proves to be mostly overlapping with rural ones, when controlling for sub-national structural divides occurring throughout Italy. Secondly, spatial aspects make the picture even more complex. Even the neighbouring space is expected to affect QoL at local level. In particular, by means of both global and local indicators of spatial autocorrelation, groups of NUTS 3 regions sharing similar QoL levels with their neighbours are detected. From a policy perspective, such a locked-in path among neighbouring regions can influence the effectiveness of place-based policies.
    Keywords: inner areas, rural areas, quality of life, spatial effects, Agricultural and Food Policy, Community/Rural/Urban Development, Public Economics, O18, R00, R10, R11,
    Date: 2016–07

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