nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2017‒09‒03
twelve papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. The Effect of Job Displacement on Subjective Well-being By Song, Younghwan
  2. Income or Leisure? On the Hidden Benefits of (Un-)Employment By Adrian Chadi; Clemens Hetschko
  3. Non-creative tasks: a turn off for creative R&D employees By Aaro Hazak
  4. Better not to ask your employees to come to work? Issues in R&D work efficiency By Aaro Hazak
  5. Fixed-term contracts – a turnoff for R&D employees By Aaro Hazak
  6. Does flexible work make R&D employees happier? By Marit Rebane; Heili Hein; Aaro Hazak
  7. The Impact of Terrorism on Well-being: Evidence from the Boston Marathon Bombing By Andrew E Clark; Orla Doyle; Elena Stancanelli
  8. The Long-Lasting Effects of Family and Childhood on Adult Wellbeing: Evidence from British Cohort Data By Sarah Flèche; Warn Lekfuangfu; Andrew E. Clark
  9. Early-life correlates of later-life well-being: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study By Andrew E. Clark; Tom Lee
  10. Do Humans Suffer a Psychological Low in Midlife? Two Approaches (With and Without Controls) in Seven Data Sets By Blanchflower, David G.; Oswald, Andrew J.
  11. Equality of Opportunity for Well-Being By Mahler, Daniel Gerszon; Ramos, Xavier
  12. Antidepressants for Economists and Business-School Researchers: An Introduction and Review By Katolik, Aleksandra; Oswald, Andrew J.

  1. By: Song, Younghwan (Union College)
    Abstract: Using matched data drawn from the 2010 and 2012 Displaced Workers Supplements of the Current Population Surveys and the 2010, 2012, and 2013 American Time Use Survey Well-Being Modules, this paper examines the effect of job displacement on various measures of subjective well-being. The results indicate that the effect of job displacement on subjective well-being varies by sex and by measure of subjective well- being: among men job displacement does not affect moment-to-moment subjective well-being but lowers their life evaluation through changes in employment, marital status, and earnings, whereas among women job displacement decreases net affect, mostly by decreasing happiness and increasing pain, sadness, and stress, but does not affect their life evaluation. Among men, those displaced by layoffs, not by plant closings, express lower levels of the Cantril ladder than those not displaced but there is no such difference by cause of displacement among women. The negative effects of job displacement on subjective well-being decrease over time for both men and women.
    Keywords: job displacement, subjective well-being, Cantril ladder, net affect
    JEL: I31 J63 J65
    Date: 2017–08
  2. By: Adrian Chadi; Clemens Hetschko
    Abstract: We study the usually assumed trade-off between income and leisure in labor supply decisions using comprehensive German panel data. We compare non-employed individuals after plant closures with employed people regarding both income and time use as well as their subjective perceptions of these two factors. We find that the gain of non-working time translates into higher satisfaction with free time, while time spent on hobbies increases to a lesser extent than home production. Additionally, satisfaction with family life increases, which may be a hidden benefit of being unemployed. In contrast, satisfaction with income strongly declines when becoming jobless. Identity utility from earning a living may play the role of a hidden benefit of employment. Finally, we examine subjective assessments of income and leisure as potential predictors for job take-up. Non-employed people are particularly likely to take up a job soon when they are dissatisfied withtheir income.
    Keywords: labor supply, plant closure, leisure, work-family conflict, life satisfaction, income satisfaction, free time satisfaction, family satisfaction
    JEL: D01 D13 I31 J22 J64 J65
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Aaro Hazak
    Abstract: Reports, applications, formalities and administrative tasks – these are common elements in the work of R&D employees. We performed a study among Estonian creative R&D employees to identify what the link is between the share of creative work in total working time, and the results of the work, as well as the sleepiness, tiredness and wellbeing of the employee. We find that the more creative the R&D employee’s work, the more satisfied the person is with his/her work results, while more routine tasks also decrease creative content in work outcomes. Furthermore, the more creative the work, the happier the employee appears to be. We also find that non-creative tasks increase the daytime sleepiness and tiredness of creative R&D employees. It is important that employers as well as R&D governance bodies consider carefully the adverse effects that extensive non-creative work tasks may have on both the R&D work results as well as individual wellbeing.
    Date: 2017–08–31
  4. By: Aaro Hazak
    Abstract: The understanding that work is done at a workplace is a deeply-rooted social norm, including in the case of creative R&D work. We have studied Estonian creative R&D employees to find out the links between distance work and work outcomes, individual wellbeing, sleep and tiredness. It appears that those who have a distance work option perceive their work results significantly higher than those without that option. Moreover, employees that can work outside the office are happier and less tired, and they feel the constraints that work sets on their sleep habits much less than those who have to do their work at the workplace only. Although some creative R&D jobs may require the use of specific laboratories, equipment, data or teamwork, providing the distance work option appears to be beneficial overall for both the employer and the employee.
    Date: 2017–08–31
  5. By: Aaro Hazak
    Abstract: Fixed-term employment contracts are very common in the current project-based era. Our research group has been seeking to find out how fixed versus permanent contracts link to how Estonian R&D employee perceive their wellbeing, tiredness and sleepiness. We found that the happiness of those working with fixed-term contracts is significantly lower – both in terms of current happiness and potential happiness looking forward. Moreover, employees with fixed-term contracts appeared to be considerably more tired and experience greater levels of daytime sleepiness. We did not find, however, any significant differences in the perceived work results of R&D employees with fixed-term contracts compared to those with permanent contracts. Employers as well as R&D governance bodies should keep in mind the adverse effects that fixed-term contracts may have on individual wellbeing.
    Date: 2017–08–31
  6. By: Marit Rebane; Heili Hein; Aaro Hazak
    Abstract: Striving for happiness is a universal human goal, and increased happiness is regarded as a key objective in modern scientific literature on socio-economic development. Yet, the connection between happiness and the organisation of work has not received much scrutiny. In our study on Estonian creative R&D employees, we explore the effects of flexible work schedules, the option of teleworking, and other aspects of work arrangements on employee happiness. We uncover that the option to work out of the office substantially increases happiness, and this effect is further augmented by flexible working time arrangements. We also consider the inner circadian cycles of employees and find that evening type individuals (“owls”) feel significantly less joy from their daily lives than their morning type colleagues (“larks”). This is potentially due to genetic factors, but could also be partially caused by a mismatch between the innate time preferences among owls and social as well as employer expectations. Overall, the results of our study suggest that flexible working arrangements could significantly increase the happiness and well-being of creative R&D employees.
    Date: 2017–08–31
  7. By: Andrew E Clark (Paris School of Economics and CNRS); Orla Doyle (UCD School of Economics & UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy); Elena Stancanelli (Paris School of Economics and CNRS)
    Abstract: A growing literature concludes that terrorism impacts the economy, yet less is known about its impact on utility. This paper estimates the impact of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing on well-being, by exploiting representative U.S. daily data. Using both a regression discontinuity and an event study design, whereby the 2012 Boston marathon serves as a counterfactual, we find a sharp reduction in well-being, equivalent to a two percentage point rise in annual unemployment. The effect is stronger for women and those living in nearby States, but does not persist beyond one week, thus demonstrating the resilience of well-being to terrorism.
    Keywords: Well-being, Terrorism, Regression Discontinuity Design, Differences-in-Differences
    JEL: I31 J21 J22 F52
    Date: 2017–08–25
  8. By: Sarah Flèche (Centre for Economic Performance - LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science); Warn Lekfuangfu (LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science, Chulalongkorn University (THAILAND) - Chulalongkorn University (THAILAND)); Andrew E. Clark (Centre for Economic Performance - LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE - London School of Economics and Political Science, PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: To what extent do childhood experiences continue to affect adult wellbeing over the life course? Previous work on this link has been carried out either at one particular adult age or for some average of adulthood. We here use two British birth-cohort datasets (the 1958 NCDS and the 1970 BCS) to map out the time profile of the effect of childhood on adult outcomes, including life satisfaction. We find that the effect of many aspects of childhood do not fade away over time, but are rather remarkably stable. In both birth cohorts child non-cognitive skills are the strongest predictors of adult life satisfaction at all ages. Of these, emotional health is the strongest. Childhood cognitive performance is more important than good conduct in explaining adult life satisfaction in the earlier cohort, whereas this ranking is inverted in the more recent BCS.
    Keywords: life satisfaction,cohort data,childhood,adult outcomes
    Date: 2017–07
  9. By: Andrew E. Clark (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics); Tom Lee (Institute for Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: We use data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) to consider the distal and proximal correlates of happiness and eudaimonia in later life. Even after controlling for proximal covariates, outcomes at age 18 (IQ score, parental income and parental education) remain good predictors of well-being over 50 years later. In terms of the proximal covariates, mental health and social participation are the strongest predictors of well-being. Although some factors are important in explaining both happiness and eudaimonia, there are notable differences between the two measures: well-being policy will thus depend to an extent on which measure is preferred.
    Keywords: depression,eudaimonia,health,Life-course,well-being
    Date: 2017–07
  10. By: Blanchflower, David G. (Dartmouth College); Oswald, Andrew J. (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Using seven recent data sets, covering 51 countries and 1.3 million randomly sampled people, the paper examines the pattern of psychological well-being from approximately age 20 to age 90. Two conceptual approaches to this issue are possible. Despite what has been argued in the literature, neither is the 'correct' one, because they measure different things. One studies raw numbers on well-being and age. This is the descriptive approach. The second studies the patterns in regression equations for well-being (that is, adjusting for other influences). This is the ceteris-paribus analytical approach. The paper applies each to large cross-sections and compares the patterns of life-satisfaction and happiness. Using the first method, there is evidence of a midlife low in five of the seven data sets. Using the second method, all seven data sets produce evidence consistent with a midlife low. The scientific explanation for the approximate U-shape currently remains unknown.
    Keywords: happiness, aging, well-being, GHQ, mental-health, depression, life-course
    JEL: I3 I31
    Date: 2017–08
  11. By: Mahler, Daniel Gerszon (University of Copenhagen); Ramos, Xavier (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
    Abstract: A growing literature has tried to measure the extent to which individuals have equal opportunities to acquire income. At the same time, policy makers have doubled down on efforts to go beyond income when measuring well- being. We attempt to bridge these two areas by measuring the extent to which individuals have equal opportunities to achieve a high level of well-being. We use the German Socio-Economic Panel to measure well-being in four different ways including incomes. This makes it possible to determine if the way well-being is measured matters for identifying who the opportunity-deprived are and for tracking inequality of opportunity over time. We find that, regardless of how wellbeing is measured, the same people are opportunity-deprived and equality of opportunity has improved over the past 20 years. This suggests that going beyond income has little relevance if the objective is to provide equal opportunities.
    Keywords: equality of opportunity, measurement, responsibility, effort, well-being
    JEL: D3 D63 I31
    Date: 2017–08
  12. By: Katolik, Aleksandra (University of Warwick); Oswald, Andrew J. (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: The antidepressant pill is an important modern commodity. Its growing role in the world has been largely ignored by researchers in economics departments and business schools. Scholars may be unaware how many citizens and employees now take these pills. Here we review some of the social-science literature on the topic. We discuss research on the impact of advertising upon antidepressant consumption, the link between antidepressants and the human 'midlife crisis', and evidence on how antidepressants are connected to crime, suicide, and financial hardship. We argue that antidepressants will eventually have to be modelled as a new form of consumption that lies in the currently grey area between medicines and consumer goods. This topic demands scholarly and societal attention.
    Keywords: medications, depression, well-being, happiness
    JEL: I1 I12 I3 I31
    Date: 2017–08

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