nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2019‒04‒08
five papers chosen by

  1. The Effect of Immigration on the Well-Being of Native Populations: Evidence from the United Kingdom By Papageorgiou, Athanasios
  2. Weekend working in 21st century Britain:Does it matter for well-being? By Andrew M. Bryce
  3. Making economic growth and well-being compatible: evidence from Japan By Sarracino, Francesco; O'Connor, Kelsey J.; Ono, Hiroshi
  4. Historical Analysis of National Subjective Wellbeing using Millions of Digitized Books By Hills, Thomas; Illushka Seresinhe, Chanuki; Proto, Eugenio; Sgroi, Daniel
  5. Effects of Happiness on Income Generation and Inequality By Satya Paul

  1. By: Papageorgiou, Athanasios
    Abstract: Immigration has long been a controversial topic in the political landscape of the United Kingdom. Public scepticism over the adverse effects of immigration has largely determined the outcome of the recent referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU. This is especially the case for certain demographic groups, such as older people who tend to be more opposed to immigration. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between migrant inflows and the subjective well-being of natives in the United Kingdom. The empirical analysis relies on a combined dataset from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) for the entire UK covering the period 2004-2016, while subjective well-being is captured by life satisfaction and general happiness. Using respondents’ geographic identifiers allows us to map net migration at the local authority level. Our results suggest that immigration has only a minor effect on the subjective well-being of natives. We also examine how our estimates vary across socio-demographic groups and conclude that there is some degree of heterogeneity in terms of gender, age, marital and job status, although our results are not statistically significant. To account for endogeneity and reverse causality we apply the instrumental variable (IV) approach. The IV results suggest a positive effect of immigration on natives’ well-being, however the magnitude of the estimated coefficient appears to be quite small. Furthermore, we perform several additional tests to ensure the robustness of our estimates. Finally, we suggest that labour market and health outcomes may be two possible channels through which migrant inflows affect the subjective well-being of British natives.
    Keywords: Subjective well-being; Immigration; Fixed effects; Local authority district; UK
    JEL: C23 F22 I31 R23
    Date: 2018–09
  2. By: Andrew M. Bryce (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield UK)
    Abstract: On any given weekend, over a fifth of the UK labour force is at work, while more than half of working adults report working at the weekend at least some of the time. This is despite the fact that weekends are conventionally set aside as rest days. The question that this paper addresses is: does this matter? This paper adds to the literature by using two large panel datasets to analyse the effects of weekend working on eight different measures of subjective well-being in the UK. Unlike most previous literature on this topic, the analysis in this paper controls for individual fixed effects such that the results should not be confounded by time invariant omitted variables that differ between individuals. I find that weekend working does not affect how satisfied people are with their lives overall but it does have a significant impact on how satisfied they are with the amount of leisure time they have, with the results suggesting that the avoidance of weekend working is equivalent to working six fewer hours per week. Moreover, people working at the weekend report significantly lower happiness yesterday than non-weekend workers. These findings imply that, while weekend working is arguably good for productivity and hence welfare, such benefits come at a cost. Notwithstanding the fact that many people may be freely supplying their labour at weekends, actions aimed at limiting weekend working or mitigating its adverse effects will improve the overall well-being of workers.
    Keywords: subjective well-being; labour market; weekend working
    JEL: I3 J2
    Date: 2019–03
  3. By: Sarracino, Francesco; O'Connor, Kelsey J.; Ono, Hiroshi
    Abstract: Whether economic growth improves the human lot is a matter of conditions. We focus on Japan, a country where reforms in the mid-1990s shifted the country from a pattern of rampant economic growth and stagnant well-being, to one of modest growth and increasing well-being. We discuss the policy reforms and analyze the changes that explain the increase in well-being. In particular, we assess whether the factors that explain the increase are consistent with those expected from the reforms. We apply Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition to World Values Survey data. Results show that well-being increased due to improved conditions for elderly people, people with children, and women, in other words, the primary groups targeted by the reforms. We conclude that adopting a system of social safety nets contributes to make economic growth compatible with increasing well-being over time.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction, Japan, inclusive growth, Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition, World Values Survey, social safety nets, welfare state
    JEL: D6 D60 I31 I38 O12
    Date: 2019–03–28
  4. By: Hills, Thomas; Illushka Seresinhe, Chanuki; Proto, Eugenio; Sgroi, Daniel
    Abstract: In addition to improving quality of life, higher subjective wellbeing leads to fewer health problems, higher productivity, and better incomes. For these reasons subjective wellbeing has become a key focal issue among scientific researchers and governments. Yet no scientific investigator knows how happy humans were in previous centuries. Here we show that a new method based on quantitative analysis of digitized text from millions of books published over the past 200 years captures reliable trends in historical subjective wellbeing across four nations. This method uses psychological valence norms for thousands of words to compute the relative proportion of positive and negative language, indicating relative happiness during national and international wars, financial crises, and in comparison to historical trends in longevity and GDP. We validate our method using Eurobarometer survey data from the 1970s onwards and in comparison with economic, medical, and political events since 1820 and also use a set of words with stable historical meanings to support our findings. Finally we show that our results are robust to the use of diverse corpora (including text derived from newspapers) and different word norms.
    Date: 2019–03
  5. By: Satya Paul
    Abstract: This paper examines how happiness affects the income generating capacity of individuals and thereby the distribution of income. It is hypothesized that happiness impacts upon the income generating capacity of individuals directly by stimulating work efficiency, and indirectly by affecting their allocation of time for paid work. Both these effects of happiness on income are tested in a model consisting of an income generating function and a work-hour equation. The Australian panel survey data from the first 14 Waves of HILDA (2001-2014) are used to estimate the model. The income flows of happiness and other variables obtained from the model are inserted into the inequality decomposition equations (rules) to obtain their relative contributions. The study concludes that happiness has a positive and significant effect on income generation and contributes to the reduction of inequality in Australia.
    Keywords: Happiness, Health, Income inequality, income generating model
    JEL: C23 C51 D31
    Date: 2018

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