nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2017‒03‒12
five papers chosen by

  1. The pursuit of happiness: Does gender parity in social institutions matter? By Gaëlle Ferrant; Alexandre Kolev; Caroline Tassot
  2. The subjective well-being of workfare participants: Insights from a Day Reconstruction Survey By Schöb, Ronnie; Knabe, Andreas; Weimann, Joachim
  3. Pension generosity and mental wellbeing: The effect of eradicating poverty at old-age By Danzer, Alexander M.; Danzer, Natalia
  4. Origins of happiness By Andrew Clark; Sarah Flèche; Richard Layard; Nattavudh Powdthavee; George Ward
  5. Social Mobility and the Wellbeing of Individuals By Tak Wing Chan

  1. By: Gaëlle Ferrant; Alexandre Kolev; Caroline Tassot
    Abstract: The OECD has long argued that the ultimate goal of public policies is to improve the quality of our lives. But what makes us happy? Does living in a country guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to women and men increase people’s happiness? This paper shows that genderbased discrimination in social institutions, measured by the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), impedes well-being, beyond its negative impact on economic growth and GDP. Both men and women are happier when living in a country where social institutions offer equal rights and opportunities to women and men, even when taking into account country and individual characteristics. Current gender-based discrimination in social institutions fuels a decline of 4.4% in the world average level of life satisfaction. Conversely, eliminating gender-based discrimination in social institutions could reduce the share of the “unhappy” population from 14% to 5% globally. L'OCDE a longtemps soutenu que l’objectif ultime des politiques publiques était d'améliorer notre qualité de vie. Mais qu'est-ce qui nous rend heureux? Vivre dans un pays garantissant l'égalité des droits et des chances aux femmes et aux hommes augmente-t-il notre bonheur? Cette étude montre que les discriminations envers les femmes au sein des institutions sociales, mesurées par l’indicateur institutions sociales et égalité femme-homme (SIGI), réduisent le bienêtr des individus, au-delà de son impact négatif sur la croissance économique et le PIB. Les hommes et les femmes sont plus heureux quand ils vivent dans un pays où les institutions sociales leur offrent des droits et opportunités égaux. L’étude estime que le niveau actuel de discrimination envers les femmes au sein des institutions sociales induit une perte de bien-être de 4.4 % au niveau mondial. Réciproquement, l’élimination de toutes formes de discriminations envers les femmes au sein des institutions sociales réduirait la proportion d’individus insatisfaits de 14 % à 5 % au niveau mondial.
    Keywords: gender inequality, social institutions, subjective well-being
    JEL: D60 I31 J16
    Date: 2017–03–08
  2. By: Schöb, Ronnie; Knabe, Andreas; Weimann, Joachim
    Abstract: In this paper, we shed more light on the subjective well-being of workfare participants and compare it to the well-being of unemployed and employed workers. We use data from a self-conducted survey among participants in workfare schemes in Germany. We examine two subdimensions of subjective well-being – life satisfaction and emotional well-being – separately to obtain a more comprehensive view of the subjective well-being of workfare participants. Our results show that the life satisfaction of people in this group is between that of employed and unemployed people. In contrast, their emotional well-being is the highest of these three groups.
    JEL: I31 J60 D60
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Danzer, Alexander M.; Danzer, Natalia
    Abstract: This paper exploits a unique shift in pension generosity to study the effect of eradicating old-age poverty on mental health. Based on a difference-in-differences set-up we show with two independent data sets from Ukraine that greater pension generosity improves subjective well-being and reduces the incidence of diagnosed depressions. Neither more available leisure time, nor higher consumption levels, nor enhanced physical health can explain the empirical mental health improvement. Instead, we suggest that the main channel for the mental health improvement is the reduced reliance on potentially stressful modes of income generation at old age, such as family household transfers, indebtedness and unpaid bills.
    JEL: H55 I10 I38
    Date: 2016
  4. By: Andrew Clark; Sarah Flèche; Richard Layard; Nattavudh Powdthavee; George Ward
    Abstract: Understanding the key determinants of people's life satisfaction makes it possible to suggest policies for how best to reduce misery and promote wellbeing. A forthcoming book by Richard Layard and colleagues discusses evidence on the origins of happiness in survey data from Australia, Germany, the UK and the United States.
    Keywords: happiness, wellbeing, government, mental health
    Date: 2017–03
  5. By: Tak Wing Chan (Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education)
    Abstract: Several papers published in recent years have revived interest in Sorokin's dissociative thesis: the view that intergenerational social mobility has detrimental effects on the social relationships and wellbeing of individuals. In this paper, I test the dissociative thesis using data from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society. On a wide range of indicators that measure participation in civic associations, contact with parents, close personal relationships, social support, subjective wellbeing, etc. individuals who have achieved long-range upward mobility (i.e. those who move from working class origin to salariat destination) tend to fare better than those who are immobile in the working class. Those who have experienced long-range downward mobility (moving from salariat origin to working class destination) do about as well as second-generation members of the working class. Overall, there is no support for Sorokin's thesis.
    Keywords: Social mobility; Wellbeing; Dissociative thesis
    Date: 2017–01–11

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.