nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2017‒12‒18
three papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Adolescents’ (Un)happiness in Transition By Tom Coupe; Maksym Obrizan
  2. Measuring individual well-being: A multidimensional index integrating subjective well-being and preferences By Lin Yang
  3. Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America: A Review Essay, and Further Evidence, on Carol Graham’s Happiness for All? By David G. Blanchflower; Andrew Oswald

  1. By: Tom Coupe (University of Canterbury); Maksym Obrizan (Kyiv School of Economics)
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyse the life satisfaction of adolescents in transition countries, comparing their life satisfaction to the life satisfaction of their peers in non-transition countries. We find that at the start of transition, ceteris paribus, the life satisfaction of adolescents in our sample of transition countries did not differ much from the life satisfaction of adolescents in our sample of non-transition countries. With the economic crisis of the early nineties, however, the difference increased dramatically but by the beginning of the 2000s this gap had again become fairly limited. From that point, respondents’ health situation, their material wealth and their school experience mattered much more than where they lived. Unlike the literature on adults, we find that macro-variables cannot explain much of the happiness gap between transition and non-transition countries.
    Keywords: adolescents, happiness, happiness gap, transition countries
    JEL: I31 P20
    Date: 2017–12
  2. By: Lin Yang
    Abstract: Policymakers have begun looking for measures to assess the well-being of their citizens beyond GDP per capita and disposable income levels. However, the multidimensional and subjective nature of human well-being makes defining such a measure challenging - when dealing with multiple dimensions of well-being, how can we reconcile the need for a consistent measure across individuals with the differences those individuals might place on the relative value of different dimensions (income versus health, for example)? This paper introduces the "preference index approach", a multidimensional measure based on the "equivalence approach" in social choice theory, assessing well-being in a way that reflects such interpersonal differences in preferences whilst retaining comparability among individuals. The framework is empirically illustrated with subjective well-being data from the British Household Panel Survey, using longitudinal life satisfaction regression to estimate different preference types between well-being dimensions. The empirical illustration estimates preferences of individuals by age group and education level, and finds an unexpected weaker preference for the health dimension within older groups. Across all groups, health is strongly prioritised over income. When preference heterogeneities are taken into account, the picture of well-being looks quite different than that painted by income, subjective well-being or standard multidimensional measures. The "preference index" proposal challenges the popular assumption of a readily available cardinal well-being measure specified identically across individuals, and the common practice in composite indices of using population averages to seek an assessment. As such, the framework and empirical application of this preference-sensitive index of multidimensional well-being are new contributions.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction, multidimensional well-being, preferences, welfare economics
    JEL: D63 I31
    Date: 2017–06
  3. By: David G. Blanchflower; Andrew Oswald
    Abstract: In Happiness for All?, Carol Graham raises disquieting ideas about today’s United States. The challenge she puts forward is an important one. Here we review the intellectual case and offer additional evidence. We conclude broadly on the author’s side. Strikingly, Americans appear to be in greater pain than citizens of other countries, and most sub-groups of citizens have downwardly trended happiness levels. There is, however, one bright side to an otherwise dark story. The happiness of black Americans has risen strongly since the 1970s. It is now almost equal to that of white Americans.
    JEL: I3 I31
    Date: 2017–11

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