nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2018‒08‒20
eight papers chosen by

  1. Life satisfaction and diet in transition: Evidence from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey By Sonya K Huffman, Iowa State University,; Marian Rizov, University of Lincoln,
  2. Doing Good, Feeling Good: Causal Evidence from Canadian Volunteers By Catherine Deri Armstrong; Rose Anne Devlin; Forough Seifi
  3. The impact of local shocks on well-being: Only a matter of perception? By Stein, Wiebke; Weisser, Reinhard A.
  4. The Well-being of the Overemployed and the Underemployed and the Rise in Depression in the UK By David N.F. Bell; David G. Blanchflower
  5. The Sad Truth About Happiness Scales: Empirical Results By Timothy N. Bond; Kevin Lang
  6. A critique of the econometrics of happiness: Are we underestimating the returns to education and income? By Christopher P Barrington-Leigh
  7. Getting Incentives Right: The economic and social determinants of migrants’ well-being during the global financial crisis By Alexander M. Danzer; Barbara Dietz
  8. Social Identity and Perceived Income Adequacy By Goel, Deepti; Deshpande, Ashwini

  1. By: Sonya K Huffman, Iowa State University,; Marian Rizov, University of Lincoln,
    Abstract: This paper develops a theoretical framework and provides empirical evidence on the impacts of diet and lifestyles on life satisfaction in Russia using 1995-2005 data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey. Our results suggest that diet measured as calories, fat, protein, and diversity of food consumption has a statistically significant effect on life satisfaction levels of the Russian population. In addition, living in a region with higher per capita income increases population’s life satisfaction. While living in a rural area, having health problems, and having young children affect individual life satisfaction in Russia in a negative and statistically significantly way. Life satisfaction is also positively correlated with education and income, and negatively with unemployment. Better understanding of the drivers of life satisfaction and more generally of subjective wellbeing in Russia can assist in the government decision-making processes, including the allocation of scarce resources and the design of public health policies.
    Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety, Health Economics and Policy, Institutional and Behavioral Economics
    Date: 2018–04–09
  2. By: Catherine Deri Armstrong (University of Ottawa, ON, Canada); Rose Anne Devlin (University of Ottawa, ON, Canada); Forough Seifi (University of Ottawa, ON, Canada)
    Abstract: Volunteers are reputedly healthier and happier than their non-volunteering counterparts. But is this a causal link or are healthier, happy individuals simply more likely to volunteer? Some papers have attempted to identify the causal relationship using an instrumental variable methodology; most relying on measures of religiosity as instruments for volunteering. No studies of such nature have been conducted in Canada. We rely on a novel instrument, a measure physical proximity to volunteer opportunities and use data from Canadian General Social Surveys to fill this gap. Employing a conditional mixed process (CMP) model, we find that volunteering is a robustly significant predictor of health, and positively affects life satisfaction for female and middle-aged individuals.
    Keywords: Volunteering; volunteering and health; volunteering and life satisfaction
    Date: 2018
  3. By: Stein, Wiebke; Weisser, Reinhard A.
    Abstract: This paper investigates how witnessing adverse events affects individuals' perceptions and consequently their personal subjective well-being. In order to do so, we compare material well-being dynamics with changes in subjective well-being. We link GIS data on local flood shocks to an extensive household sample from rural Southeast Asia. This allows us to contrast individuals who actually experienced a shock with those who did not. We find that the mere proximity to a potentially adverse flood shock, without any direct impact on a household's material well-being, can be sufficient to affect subjective well-being.
    Keywords: perception; subjective well-being; GIS data; MODIS flood mapping
    JEL: I31 Q51 R23
    Date: 2018–07
  4. By: David N.F. Bell; David G. Blanchflower
    Abstract: In this paper we build on our earlier work on underemployment using data from the UK. In particular, we explore their well-being based on hours preferences rather than on involuntary part-time work used in the prior literature. We make use of five main measures of well-being: happiness; life satisfaction; whether life is worthwhile; anxiety and depression. The underemployed have higher levels of well-being than the unemployed and disabled but lower levels than any other group of workers, full or part-time. The more that actual hours differ from preferred hours the lower is a worker's well-being. This is true for those who say they want more hours (the underemployed) and those who say they want less (the over employed). We find strong evidence of a rise in depression and anxiety (negative affect) in the years since the onset of austerity in 2010 that is not matched by declines in happiness measures (positive affect). The fear of unemployment obtained from monthly surveys from the EU has also been on the rise since 2015. We find evidence of an especially large rise in anxiety and depression among workers in general and the underemployed in particular. The underemployed don't want to be underemployed.
    JEL: I20 I31 J64
    Date: 2018–07
  5. By: Timothy N. Bond; Kevin Lang
    Abstract: We replicate nine key results from the happiness literature: the Easterlin Paradox, the ‘U-shaped’ relation between happiness and age, the happiness trade-off between inflation and unemployment, cross-country comparisons of happiness, the impact of the Moving to Opportunity program on happiness, the impact of marriage and children on happiness, the ‘paradox’ of declining female happiness, and the effect of disability on happiness. We show that none of the findings can be obtained relying only on nonparametric identification. The findings in the literature are highly dependent on one's beliefs about the underlying distribution of happiness in society, or the social welfare function one chooses to adopt. Furthermore, any conclusions reached from these parametric approaches rely on the assumption that all individuals report their happiness in the same way. When the data permit, we test for equal reporting functions, conditional on the existence of a common cardinalization from the normal family. We reject this assumption in all cases in which we test it.
    JEL: D63 I31
    Date: 2018–07
  6. By: Christopher P Barrington-Leigh
    Abstract: A large "happiness", or life satisfaction, literature in economics makes use of Likert-like scales in assessing survey respondents' cognitive evaluations of their lives. These measures are being used to estimate economic benefits in every empirical field of economics. Typically, analysis of these data have shown remarkably low direct returns of education for improving subjective well-being. In addition, arguably, the inferred impact of material wealth and income using this method is also unexpectedly low as compared with other, social factors, and as compared with economists' prior expectations which underlie, in some sense, support for using GDP as a proxy for more general quality of life goals. Discrete response scales used ubiquitously for the reporting of life satisfaction pose cognitive challenges to survey respondents, so differing cognitive abilities result in different uses of the scale, and thus potential bias in statistical inference. This problem has so far gone unnoticed. An overlooked feature of the distribution of responses to life satisfaction questions is that they exhibit certain enhancements at focal values, in particular at 0, 5, and 10 on the eleven-point scale. In this paper, I investigate the reasons for, and implications of, these response patterns. I use a model to account for the focal-value behavior using a latent variable approach to capture the "internal" cognitive evaluation before it is translated to the discrete scale of a survey question. This approach, supported by other more heuristic ones, finds a significant upward correction for the effects of both education and income on life satisfaction.
    Date: 2018–07
  7. By: Alexander M. Danzer (KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt); Barbara Dietz
    Abstract: This paper investigates the economic and social determinants affecting the well-being of temporary migrants before, during and after the financial crisis. Exploiting unique panel data which cover migration spells from Tajikistan between 2001 and 2011, we find that migrants earn less but stay longer in the destination during the crisis; at the same time, they become more exposed to illegal work relations, harassment and deportation through the Russian authorities. Especially illegal employment has negative second order effects on wages. Despite the similarities in the demographics and jobs of migrant workers, we find substantial heterogeneity in how the financial crisis affects their well-being. Migrants who experience wage losses during the crisis rationally stop migrating.
    Keywords: Global financial crisis, migration, migrants’ well-being
    JEL: O15 F22
    Date: 2018–01
  8. By: Goel, Deepti; Deshpande, Ashwini
    Abstract: Economists are increasingly interested in subjective well-being, but the economic literature on perceptions of income adequacy, which is one of the factors that shapes subjective well-being, is small. Our paper fills this lacuna in the literature. We utilize nationally representative data on perceptions of amounts considered as remunerative earnings from self-employment in India, and examine how these are shaped by social identity, namely, caste. We also investigate if institutional change such as the introduction of an employment guarantee scheme alters these perceptions. Finally, we examine the relationship between caste identity and actual earnings. We find that caste identity does shape both perceptions of income adequacy as well as actual earnings: lower-ranked groups perceive lower amounts as being remunerative, and also earn lower amounts. Further, the employment guarantee scheme alters self-perceptions differentially for different caste groups, but in more nuanced ways than our ex-ante beliefs.
    Keywords: Caste,Perceptions,Income Adequacy,Discrimination,India
    JEL: J15 O15
    Date: 2018

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