nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2017‒01‒01
six papers chosen by

  1. A Review of General Social Surveys By Lara Fleischer; Conal Smith; Carine Viac
  2. Putting Subjective Well-being to Use for Ex-ante Policy Evaluation By Jara Tamayo, Holguer Xavier; Schokkaert, Erik
  3. How are health and life satisfaction related to education? By OECD
  4. Social Media Use and Children’s Wellbeing By Emily McDool; Phillip Powell; Jennifer Roberts; Karl Taylor
  5. On the Relationship between Lifestyle and Happiness in the UK By Adelina Gschwandtner; Sarah L. Jewell; Uma Kambhampati
  6. Helping with the Kids? How Family-Friendly Workplaces Affect Parental Well-Being and Behavior By Verena Lauber; Johanna Storck

  1. By: Lara Fleischer (OECD); Conal Smith (OECD); Carine Viac (OECD)
    Abstract: Societal progress is about improvements in the well-being of people and households. Assessing such progress requires looking at the diverse and multidimensional experiences and living conditions of people. Measuring well-being and progress is a key priority that the OECD is pursuing through its Better Life Initiative and the How’s Life report series that has been published bi-annually since 2011. In addition, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have created a strong need for better data on multi-dimensional outcomes. However, no statistical framework exists linking conceptual frameworks of well-being with specific measurement instruments and outputs, and a lack of harmonised data suitable for international comparisons remains a key limitation to monitoring progress across countries. This review makes a first step towards developing a system of well-being statistics. A data source that has been underutilised in assessing the multidimensionality of human well-being and the joint distribution of outcomes are General Social Surveys, which are run by the majority of national statistical agencies as part of their regular survey programme. Using the OECD well-being framework, this review systematically considers the outcome domains of How’s Life?, taking stock of how each domain is being measured through General Social Surveys conducted in OECD countries and could be drawn upon in comparative analyses of well-being such as How’s Life?. The paper highlights inconsistencies between General Social Surveys across countries, and makes recommendations towards harmonization. Le progrès des sociétés passe par une amélioration du bien-être des individus et des ménages. Pour évaluer ces progrès, il convient d’examiner le vécu et les conditions de vie des personnes, dans toute leur diversité et leur multi-dimensionnalité. Mesurer le bien-être et le progrès des sociétés est l’un des principaux objectifs visé par l’OCDE dans le cadre de l’Initiative du vivre mieux et de la série de rapports « Comment va la vie ? », publiés tous les deux ans depuis 2011. En outre, les objectifs de développement durable des Nations Unies créent un fort besoin d’indicateurs plus précis sur des problématiques pluridimensionnelles. Cependant, à l’heure actuelle, il n’existe pas de cadre statistique faisant le lien entre les cadres conceptuels relatifs au bien-être, les instruments de mesure spécifiques et les résultats. En outre, le manque de données harmonisées comparables au niveau international est un frein majeur au suivi des progrès d’un pays à l’autre. Cette étude ouvre la voie à un système de statistiques du bien-être. Les enquêtes sociales générales, conduites par la majorité des offices statistiques nationaux dans le cadre de leurs programmes d’enquêtes périodiques, constituent une source de données utiles à l’évaluation du caractère multidimensionnel du bien-être et de la distribution conjointe des résultats observés dans ce domaine, source qui a été sous-utilisée jusqu’à présent. En s’appuyant sur le cadre d’évaluation du bien-être de l’OCDE, cette étude examine de manière systématique les différents domaines couverts par le rapport « Comment va la vie ? », en faisant le point sur les méthodes d’évaluation appliquées pour chacun de ces domaines dans les enquêtes sociales générales menées dans les pays de l’OCDE et sur la façon dont elles pourraient être mises à profit dans des analyses comparables du bien-être, comme celle de « Comment va la vie ? ». Ce rapport met en évidence les incohérences entre les enquêtes sociales générales menées dans les différents pays, et formule des recommandations en vue d’une meilleure harmonisation.
    Keywords: methodology for collecting and organising microeconomic data, quality of life, well-being
    JEL: I30 I31 C81
    Date: 2016–12–17
  2. By: Jara Tamayo, Holguer Xavier; Schokkaert, Erik
    Abstract: Most studies using microsimulation techniques have considered the effect of potential reforms, but only regarding income distribution. However, it has become increasingly recognised, both at the academic and political level, that focusing purely on income provides a limited picture of social progress. We illustrate how ex-ante policy evaluation can be performed in terms of richer concepts of individual well-being, such as subjective life satisfaction and equivalent incomes. Our analysis makes use of EUROMOD, the EU-wide tax-benefit microsimulation model, along with 2013 EUSILC data for Sweden, which for the first time provides information on subjective wellbeing. Our results show that the effect of potential reforms varies widely depending on the well-being concept used in the evaluation. We discuss the normative questions that are raised by this finding.
    Date: 2016–12–19
  3. By: OECD
    Abstract: Since 2009, Education at a Glance (EAG) has included an indicator on education and social outcomes using data from different surveys. The OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) develops and conducts the Survey of Adult Skills which measures adults’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments. Data collected through the Survey of Adult Skills were used in various editions of EAG as it gathered rich information on various social outcomes. In EAG 2016, Indicator A8 (How are social outcomes related to education?) used this source to measure the association between educational attainment and self-reported health. This indicator also analysed data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) on the prevalence of limitations that affect people’s ability to perform normal daily activities across the different educational attainment levels. Finally, it referred to the Gallup World Poll to analyse how life satisfaction varied across the different countries and educational attainment levels. The main findings are further developed in this paper.
    Date: 2016–12–20
  4. By: Emily McDool (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield); Phillip Powell (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield); Jennifer Roberts (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield); Karl Taylor (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield)
    Abstract: Childhood circumstances and behaviours have been shown to have important persistent effects in later life. One aspect of childhood that has changed dramatically in the past decade, and is causing concern among policy makers and other bodies responsible for safeguarding children, is the advent of social media, or online social networking. This research explores the effect of children’s digital social networking on their subjective wellbeing. We use a large representative sample of 10-15 year olds over the period 2010 to 2014 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, and estimate the effect of time spent chatting on social websites on a number of outcomes which reflect how these children feel about different aspects of their life, specifically: school work; appearance; family; friends; school attended; and life as a whole. We deal with the potential endogeneity of social networking via an instrumental variables approach using information on broadband speeds and mobile phone signal strength published by Ofcom. Our results suggest that spending more time on social networks reduces the satisfaction that children feel with all aspects of their lives, except for their friendships; and that girls suffer more adverse effects than boys. As well as addressing policy makers’ concerns about the effects of digital technology on children, this work also contributes to wider debates about the socioeconomic consequences of the internet and digital technologies more generally, a debate which to date has largely been based on evidence from outside of the UK.
    Keywords: digital society, social media, wellbeing, children
    JEL: D60 I31 J13
    Date: 2016–12
  5. By: Adelina Gschwandtner; Sarah L. Jewell; Uma Kambhampati
    Abstract: In the present paper we attempt to analyse the relationship between ‘lifestyle’ and happiness in the UK using fixed effects and granger causality tests to test for endogeneity. We split the analysis by gender and find different effects between women and men. While men seem to be more physically active and this active lifestyle impacts stronger on their wellbeing than on the one of women, women seem to be more conscientious with respect to nutrition and nutrition impacts stronger on the wellbeing of women than on the wellbeing of men. In general lifestyle variables have a significantly positive impact on happiness and the impact remains significant with the use of fixed effects for both genders. This suggests that a ‘healthy lifestyle’ has a positive impact on happiness and that any policy improving our lifestyle proxies would also make people happier in the UK.
    Keywords: Wellbeing; Life Satisfaction; Happiness; Nutrition; Exercise; Lifestyle; Fixed Effects; Granger Causality
    JEL: D31 I31
    Date: 2016–12
  6. By: Verena Lauber; Johanna Storck
    Abstract: Despite political efforts, balancing work and family life is still challenging. This paper provides novel evidence on the effect of firm level interventions that seek to reduce the work-life conflict. The focus is on how a specific workplace policy, namely childcare support, affects the well-being, working time, and caring behavior of mothers with young children. We exploit the fact that since the mid 2000s an increasing number of employers have become proactive and implemented more family-friendly workplaces. These changes over time allow us to identify causal effects of childcare support using a difference-in-differences approach combined with matching. Based on a large panel dataset on families with children in Germany (FiD), we find evidence pointing to welfare enhancing effects of childcare support, as it strongly increases both childcare satisfaction and job satisfaction. In particular mothers who worked limited hours before the introduction, possibly due to constraints, increase their working time and use formal care more intensively. Satisfaction levels are also more strongly affected if mothers are career-orientated. In comparison, flexible work schedules, another family-friendly policy, only affect job satisfaction. Paternal well-being and behavior is not affected by the workplace policy.
    Keywords: Family-friendly workplace policies, well-being, work-life balance, difference-in-differences, matching
    JEL: I31 J13 J22 J28
    Date: 2016

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