nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2020‒10‒05
seven papers chosen by

  1. Flexible Jobs Make Parents Happier: Evidence from Australia By Yu, Shuye; Postepska, Agnieszka
  2. The Relationship between Subjective Wellbeing and Subjective Wellbeing Inequality: Taking Ordinality and Skewness Seriously By Grimes, Arthur; Jenkins, Stephen P.; Tranquilli, Florencia
  3. Hartz and Minds: Happiness Effects of Reforming an Employment Agency By Max Deter
  4. Trust, Happiness, and Pro-social Behavior By Carattini, Stefano; Roesti, Matthias
  5. Are Happier People More Compliant? Global Evidence From Three Large-Scale Surveys During Covid-19 Lockdowns By Krekel, Christian; Swanke, Sarah; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy
  7. Disease, Downturns, and Wellbeing: Economic History and the Long-Run Impacts of COVID-19 By Vellore Arthi; John Parman

  1. By: Yu, Shuye (University of Groningen); Postepska, Agnieszka (University of Groningen)
    Abstract: Recent studies have found that self-reported life satisfaction drops during the transition into parenthood which has been mainly attributed to work-family conflict. This study investigates whether different forms of flexible employment can alleviate this drop in parental life satisfaction during this period. A fixed-effects analysis in an event study framework using Australian household survey data (HILDA) delivers convincing evidence that working flexibly indeed alleviates the drop in subjective well-being suggesting that it relieves the stress related to work-family conflict. Moreover, we find substantial gender heterogeneity in the effects different types of flexible employment have on mothers and fathers. Mothers with short part-time jobs (0-20 hours per week) exhibit greater life satisfaction than mothers who work full-time, especially when their children are younger than 4 years old. Among fathers, self-scheduling and home-based work yield a significant increase in perceived happiness as compared to fixed employment terms. This is especially true for fathers of one- and two-years-olds. These results are consistent with a typical intra-household time allocation of parents in Australia.
    Keywords: work and family, transition to parenthood, subjective well-being, flexible work
    JEL: D1 I31 J13 J16 J21
    Date: 2020–09
  2. By: Grimes, Arthur (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust); Jenkins, Stephen P. (London School of Economics); Tranquilli, Florencia (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust)
    Abstract: We argue that the relationship between individual satisfaction with life (SWL) and SWL inequality is more complex than described by leading earlier research such as Goff, Helliwell, and Mayraz (Economic Inquiry, 2018). Using inequality indices appropriate for ordinal data, our analysis using the World Values Survey reveals that skewness of the SWL distribution, not only inequality, matters for individual SWL outcomes; so too does whether we look upwards or downwards at the (skewed) distribution. Our results are consistent with there being negative (positive) externalities for an individual's SWL from seeing people who are low (high) in the SWL distribution.
    Keywords: subjective wellbeing, ordinal data, inequality, skewness, WVS
    JEL: D31 D63 I31
    Date: 2020–09
  3. By: Max Deter
    Abstract: Since the labor market reforms around 2005, known as the Hartz reforms, Germany has experienced declining unemployment rates. However, little is known about the reforms’ effect on individual life satisfaction of unemployed workers. This study applies difference-in-difference estimations and finds a decrease in life satisfaction after the reforms that is more pronounced for male unemployed in west Germany. The effect is driven by income and income satisfaction, but not by the unemployment rate. Also unemployed persons who exogenously lost their jobs are affected by the reforms. In line with the structure of the reforms, the effect is stronger on long-term and involuntarily unemployed persons.
    Keywords: Unemployment, Hartz reforms, happiness, SOEP
    JEL: E24 I31 J64
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Carattini, Stefano; Roesti, Matthias
    Abstract: This paper combines several large-scale surveys with different identification strategies to shed new light on the determinants of cooperative behavior. We provide evidence indicating that the well-being maximizing level of trust is above the income maximizing level. Higher trust is also linked to more cooperative and pro-social behaviors, including the private provision of global public goods such as climate change mitigation. Consistent with “warm glow” theories of pro-social behavior, our results show that individuals may enjoy being more cooperative than what would lead them to maximize their income, which is reflected in higher levels of well-being.
    Keywords: Cooperation, generalized trust, pro-social behavior, pro-environmental behavior, well-being
    JEL: Q50 H41 I31 D64
    Date: 2020–09
  5. By: Krekel, Christian (London School of Economics); Swanke, Sarah (London School of Economics); De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel (University of Oxford); Fancourt, Daisy (University College London)
    Abstract: Around the world, governments have been asking their citizens to practice physical distancing and stay at home to contain the spread of Covid-19. Are happier people more willing to comply with these measures? Using three independent surveys covering over 119,000 adult respondents across 35 countries, including longitudinal data from the UK, we test competing psychological theories, and find that past and present happiness predicts compliance during lockdown. The relationship is stronger for those with higher levels of happiness. A negative mood, or loss in happiness, predicts lower compliance. We explore risk-avoidance and pro-social motivations for compliance, and find that these are not uniform but dependent on personal characteristics and context: people who are older or have certain medical preconditions seem to be predominantly motivated by risk-avoidance, whereas motivations of people who are less at risk of Covid-19 seem more mixed. Our findings have implications for policy design, targeting, and communication.
    Keywords: COVID-19, lockdown compliance, happiness, mood maintenance, risk-avoidance, pro-sociality
    JEL: I31 D91 I12
    Date: 2020–09
  6. By: Svetlana V. Mareeva (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Ekaterina D. Slobodenyuk (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: The article focuses on individual income mobility among Russians in the years 2009–2017, as measured objectively and subjectively. As in previous periods of post-Soviet development, income mobility in Russia remains high. In comparison to member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), income mobility in Russia is higher, while the level of persistent well-being is lower. Subjective assessments of one’s income situation are even more volatile than objective positions on an income scale, with persistent subjective well-being almost non-existent. Furthermore, subjective mobility does not correlate closely with its objective counterpart. Persistent well-being in terms of objective and subjective income is determined by a combination of class and non-class factors, including, above all, labor market position, dependency burden, and health status
    Keywords: Russia, income mobility, subjective mobility, immobility, sticky floor, sticky ceiling, income, social inequality, social disadvantage.
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Vellore Arthi; John Parman
    Abstract: How might COVID-19 affect human capital and wellbeing in the long run? The COVID-19 pandemic has already imposed a heavy human cost—taken together, this public health crisis and its attendant economic downturn appear poised to dwarf the scope, scale, and disruptiveness of most modern pandemics. What evidence we do have about other modern pandemics is largely limited to short-run impacts. Consequently, recent experience can do little to help us anticipate and respond to COVID-19’s potential long-run impact on individuals over decades and even generations. History, however, offers a solution. Historical crises offer closer analogues to COVID-19 in each of its key dimensions—as a global pandemic, as a global recession—and offer the runway necessary to study the life-course and intergenerational outcomes. In this paper, we review the evidence on the long-run effects on health, labor, and human capital of both historical pandemics (with a focus on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic) and historical recessions (with a focus on the Great Depression). We conclude by discussing how past crises can inform our approach to COVID-19—helping tell us what to look for, what to prepare for, and what data we ought to collect now.
    JEL: I1 I3 J1 J6 N1 N3
    Date: 2020–09

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