nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2017‒11‒26
four papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Early-life correlates of later-life well-being: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study By Clark, Andrew E.; Lee, Tom
  2. International Inequality in Subjective Well-Being: An exploration with the Gallup World Poll By Pablo Gluzmann; Leonardo Gasparini
  3. More than One Hundred Years of Improvements in Living Standards: the Case of Colombia By Juliana Jaramillo-Echeverri; Adolfo Meisel-Roca; María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo
  4. Subjective Well-Being and Public Policy By Odermatt, Reto; Stutzer, Alois

  1. By: Clark, Andrew E.; Lee, Tom
    Abstract: We here use data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) to provide one of the first analyses of the distal (early-life) and proximal (later-life) correlates of older-life subjective well-being. Unusually, we have two distinct measures of the latter: happiness and eudaimonia. 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 both measures of well-being in older age. However, there are notable differences in the other correlates of happiness and eudaimonia. As such, well-being policy will depend to an extent on which measure is preferred.
    Keywords: Life-course, well-being, eudaimonia, health, happiness
    Date: 2017–11
  2. By: Pablo Gluzmann (CEDLAS-FCE-UNLP & CONICET); Leonardo Gasparini (CEDLAS-FCE-UNLP & CONICET)
    Abstract: In this paper we compute inequality measures over the distribution of a subjective well-being variable constructed from a life satisfaction question included in the Gallup World Poll in almost all countries in the world. We argue that inequality in subjective well-being may be a better proxy for the degree of unfairness in a society than income inequality. We find evidence that inequality in subjective well-being has an inverse-U relationship with per capita GDP, but it is monotonically decreasing with respect to mean subjective well-being. We argue that this difference might be associated to inequality aversion in the space of utility.
    JEL: I31 D31 D39 D63
    Date: 2017–09
  3. By: Juliana Jaramillo-Echeverri (Banco de la República de Colombia); Adolfo Meisel-Roca; María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo (Banco de la República de Colombia)
    Abstract: This paper examines the long-term trends observed in the standard of living of the Colombian population during the past one hundred years, with special attention on health. We construct a historical index of human development for Colombia (HIHDC) for the 19th and 20th centuries by gender. We find that there were no major advances in living standards during the nineteenth century due to the stagnation of Colombia’s GDP per capita as a result of the lack of dynamism in exports. On the contrary, significant advances in all components of the HIHDC were seen in the twentieth century, especially those for women. During the first half of the century, improvements in the quality of life were mainly driven by a higher per capita income, while improvements after the 1950s were driven by greater public investment, for example, in education and health. Next, we analyze health achievements, considering health is one of the components of the HIHDC that has been less studied in the Colombian economic history literature. We construct a new dataset using statistics reported by the Colombian government, which included annual information on the main diseases and causes of mortality during the period of 1916-2014 disaggregated by territorial units. The data show that the percentage of deaths from tuberculosis, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal diseases decreased significantly throughout the century. On the contrary, deaths caused by cancer and heart diseases have increased considerably in recent decades. Results from difference-in-difference models show that the decline in the total mortality rate and in the mortality rate for waterborne diseases was largely related with the expansion in the provision of public goods, namely aqueducts and sewerage services. **** Este trabajo examina las tendencias a largo plazo observadas en el nivel de vida de la población colombiana durante los últimos cien años, con especial atención en la salud. Construimos un índice histórico de desarrollo humano para Colombia (IHDHC) para los siglos XIX y XX por género. Encontramos que no hubo avances importantes en los niveles de vida durante el siglo XIX debido principalmente al estancamiento del PIB per cápita de Colombia. Por el contrario, se observaron avances significativos en todos los componentes del IHDHC en el siglo XX, especialmente los de las mujeres. Durante la primera mitad del siglo, las mejoras en la calidad de vida se debieron principalmente a un mayor ingreso per cápita, mientras que las mejoras posteriores a la década de 1950 se debieron a una mayor inversión pública, por ejemplo, en educación y salud. A continuación, analizamos los logros de salud, considerando que la salud es uno de los componentes del IHDHC que ha sido menos estudiado en la literatura de historia económica colombiana. Construimos un nuevo conjunto de datos utilizando estadísticas reportadas por el gobierno colombiano, que incluyeron información anual sobre las principales enfermedades y causas de mortalidad durante el período de 1916-2014 desagregadas por departamentos. Los datos muestran que el porcentaje de muertes por tuberculosis, neumonía y enfermedades gastrointestinales disminuyó significativamente a lo largo del siglo. Por el contrario, las muertes causadas por cáncer y enfermedades del corazón han aumentado considerablemente en las últimas décadas. Los resultados de los modelos de diferencia en diferencias muestran que la disminución en la tasa de mortalidad total y en la tasa de mortalidad por enfermedades transmitidas por el agua estuvo relacionada en gran medida con la expansión en la provisión de servicios de acueductos y alcantarillado. Classification JEL: I00, I15, I18, N36, O10
    Keywords: Human Development, Mortality, Waterborne Diseases, Sewerage, Aqueducts, Public Health, Difference in Difference **** Desarrollo Humano, Mortalidad, Enfermedades, Acueducto, Alcantarillado
    Date: 2017–11
  4. By: Odermatt, Reto (University of Basel); Stutzer, Alois (University of Basel)
    Abstract: Measures of subjective well-being have gained substantial attention in economics as quantitative approximations of individual welfare. They allow researchers to study relevant determinants of welfare on an individual as well as on a societal level. These determinants might not to be easily detectable in observable behavior. By referring to the recent well-being literature, we provide a selection of determinants of well-being that are important for public policy and show how the analysis of subjective well-being is applied as a complementary analytical tool for policy evaluation. We highlight the use of these measures for guiding public policy in areas that might involve suboptimal behavior. We also discuss some challenges for future research that are associated with the choice of evaluation metrics, the role of aspiration and adaption in evaluations, and utility misprediction.
    Keywords: subjective well-being, determinants of welfare, policy evaluation, bounded rationality
    JEL: D61 D91 H4 I31
    Date: 2017–10

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