nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2020‒04‒27
six papers chosen by

  1. Feeling good or feeling better? By Alberto Prati; Claudia Senik
  2. Do Quarantine Experiences and Attitudes Towards COVID-19 Affect the Distribution of Psychological Outcomes in China? A Quantile Regression Analysis By Lu, Haiyang; Nie, Peng; Qian, Long
  3. Does Employee Happiness Have an Impact on Productivity? By Bellet, Clément S.; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Ward, George
  4. Revisiting a Remedy Against Chains of Unkindness By Schnedler, Wendelin; Stephan, Nina
  5. Childhood Circumstances and Young Adulthood Outcomes: The Role of Mothers’ Financial Problems By Clark, Andrew E.; D'Ambrosio, Conchita; Barazzetta, Marta
  6. Urban nature as a source of resilience during social distancing amidst the coronavirus pandemic By Samuelsson, Karl; Barthel, Stephan; Colding, Johan; Macassa, Gloria; Giusti, Matteo

  1. By: Alberto Prati (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Claudia Senik (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris School of Economics, UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: Can people remember correctly their past well-being? We study three national surveys of the British, German and French population, where more than 50,000 European citizens were asked questions about their current and past life satisfaction. We uncover systematic biases in recalled subjective well-being: on average, people tend to overstate the improvement in their well-being over time and to understate their past happiness. But this aggregate figure hides a deep asymmetry: while happy people recall the evolution of their life to be better than it was, unhappy ones tend to exaggerate its worsening. It thus seems that feeling happy today implies feeling better than yesterday. These results offer an explanation of why happy people are more optimistic, perceive risks to be lower and are more open to new experiences.
    Keywords: life satisfaction,remembered utility,memory biases,intra-personal comparisons
    Date: 2020–04
  2. By: Lu, Haiyang; Nie, Peng; Qian, Long
    Abstract: While quarantine has become a widely used control measure during the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), empirical research on whether and to what extent quarantine and attitudes towards COVID-19 influence psychological outcomes is scant. Using a cross-sectional online survey, this paper is the first to investigate the heterogeneous impact of quarantine experiences and attitudes towards COVID-19 on the whole distribution of psychological well-being in China. We find that credibility of real-time updates and confidence in the epidemic control are associated with a decline in depression but an increase in happiness. Such effects are stronger in the upper distribution of depression and the median of happiness. We also discern that individuals with severe depressive symptoms (or lower levels of happiness) are more susceptible to the severity of the pandemic. Moreover, home self-quarantine is associated a decrease in depression but an increase in happiness, by contrast, community-level quarantine discourages happiness, especially in the lower distribution of happiness.
    Keywords: Quarantine,Attitudes,Quantile regression,Psychological well-being
    JEL: I10 I31
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Bellet, Clément S.; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Ward, George
    Abstract: This article provides quasi-experimental evidence on the relationship between employee happiness and productivity in the field. We study the universe of call center sales workers at British Telecom (BT), one of the United Kingdom’s largest private employers. We measure their happiness over a 6 month period using a novel weekly survey instrument, and link these reports with highly detailed administrative data on workplace behaviors and various measures of employee performance. We show that workers make around 13% more sales in weeks where they report being happy compared to weeks when they are unhappy. Exploiting exogenous variation in employee happiness arising from weather shocks local to each of the 11 call centers, we document a strong causal effect of happiness on labor productivity. These effects are driven by workers making more calls per hour, adhering more closely to their workflow schedule, and converting more calls into sales when they are happier. No effects are found in our setting of happiness on various measures of high-frequency labor supply such as attendance and break-taking.
    Keywords: Wellbeing, happiness at work, productivity
    Date: 2019–10
  4. By: Schnedler, Wendelin; Stephan, Nina
    Abstract: Previous experiments observe a chain of unkindness: unkindly treated people treat an innocent third party unkindly. As a remedy, it has been proposed that the unkindly treated person engages in emotional regulation by writing a letter to the unkind person. Indeed, subjects who received little money were willing to leave more to a third person when they were writing a letter rather than waiting. Here, we examine whether emotional regulation is indeed behind this observation. In line with emotional regulation, we find that letter writing also leads to more giving if the person is treated unkindly by being assigned to a frustrating rather than a pleasant job. Being able to write, however, does not affect self-reported happiness differently from having to wait. Even more strikingly, subjects assigned to pleasant jobs also give more when writing rather than waiting. This is not consistent with emotional regulation.
    Keywords: experimental economics,chain of unkindness,emotional closure,cooling down
    JEL: D91 C91 D03
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Clark, Andrew E.; D'Ambrosio, Conchita; Barazzetta, Marta
    Abstract: We here consider the cognitive and non-cognitive consequences on young adults of growing up with a mother who reported experiencing major financial problems. We use UK data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to show that early childhood financial problems are associated with worse adolescent cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes, controlling for both income and a set of standard variables, and in value-added models controlling for children’s earlier age-5 outcomes. The estimated effect of financial problems is almost always larger in size than that of income. Around one-quarter to one-half of the effect of financial problems on the non-cognitive outcomes seems to transit through mother’s mental health.
    Keywords: Income, Financial Problems, Child Outcomes, Subjective well-being, Behaviour, Education, ALSPAC
    Date: 2019–01
  6. By: Samuelsson, Karl; Barthel, Stephan; Colding, Johan; Macassa, Gloria; Giusti, Matteo
    Abstract: The 2020 coronavirus pandemic caused countries across the world to implement measures of social distancing to curb spreading of COVID-19. The large and sudden disruptions to everyday life that result from this are likely to impact well-being, particularly among urban populations that live in dense settings with limited public space. In this paper, we argue that during these extraordinary circumstances, urban nature offers resilience for maintaining well-being in urban populations, while enabling social distancing. We discuss more generally the critical role of urban nature in times of crisis. Cities around the world need to take the step into the 21st century by accepting crises as a new reality and finding ways to function during these disturbances. Thus, maintaining or increasing space for nature in cities and keeping it accessible to the public should be part of the sustainability agenda, aiming simultaneously to strive towards SDG 3 (good health and well-being), and SDG 11 (sustainable and resilient cities).
    Date: 2020–04–11

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