nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2016‒09‒11
two papers chosen by

  1. Self-reported health in good times and in bad: Ireland in the 21st century By Kevin Denny; Patricia Franken
  2. Smile or Die: Can Subjective Well-Being Increase Survival in the Face of Substantive Health Impairments? By Martin Binder; Guido Buenstorf

  1. By: Kevin Denny; Patricia Franken
    Abstract: The Great Recession has renewed interest in whether and how health responds to macroeconomic changes. Ireland provides a convenient natural experiment to examine this since a period of sustained high growth and low unemployment – the so-called Celtic Tiger period- gave way to a deep recession following the economic crisis in 2008. We use data from the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (SILC), to explore what happened to self-reported health over the period 2002-2014. While some sub-populations experienced pro-cyclical effects on self-rated health, in general we find no evidence that the proportion of the population in poor health was higher after the onset of the economic crisis. However a multivariate model implies that there was some effect at the top of the health distribution with a higher unemployment rate switching individuals from being in “very good health” to “good health”. Effect sizes are much larger for females than males.
    Keywords: Self-reported health; Well-being; Recession; Unemployment; Ireland
    JEL: I18 I14 J60
    Date: 2016–08
  2. By: Martin Binder (Bard College Berlin); Guido Buenstorf (University of Kassel)
    Abstract: A robust relationship between subjective well-being and mortality has been established in the literature. While this relationship has been confirmed for many measures and data sets, few studies address how it is affected by concrete diseases. In this paper we assess for the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) data set from 1991-2008 how life satisfaction interacts with twelve concrete health impairments. Specifically, we analyze whether subjective well-being predicts longer survival in the panel for individuals having the respective impairments. We find that cancer, chest pains and diabetes consistently decrease survival in our sample, even controlling for the severity of health problems. But our results cast doubt on strong claims for the benefits of well-being on mortality: while life satisfaction generally predicts longer survival in the data set, this finding is not robust to controlling for the endogeneity of subjective well-being, and we do not find significant interactions between substantive health impairments and life satisfaction. Higher subjective well-being may keep you healthy, but once you have gotten sick, it does not predict your survival.
    Keywords: subjective well-being, health, survival analysis, longevity, BHPS, life satisfaction
    JEL: I31 I12 C41
    Date: 2016

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