nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2020‒11‒09
four papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Happy Families: types, ties and multidimensional wellbeing By Dalila de Rosa; Pierluigi Murro; Matteo Rizzolli
  2. Take the Highway? Paved Roads and Well-Being in Africa By Elodie Djemai; Andrew E. Clark; Conchita D'Ambrosio
  3. Income inequality and happiness: perceived or actual, widely or narrowly defined, fair or unfair, self- or community-centred inequality? By John Knight; Ramani Gunatilaka
  4. Coping with COVID-19: Implications of Differences in Resilience across Racial Groups for Mental Health and Well-being By Carol Graham; Barton H. Hamilton; Yung Chun; Stephen Roll; Will Ross; Karen E. Joynt-Maddox; Michal Grinstein-Weiss

  1. By: Dalila de Rosa (University of Turin); Pierluigi Murro (LUISS University); Matteo Rizzolli (LUMSA University)
    Abstract: The literature has already highlighted the positive role of marriage on objective wellbeing. Indeed, married couples earn more, are less likely to be unemployed, live longer and healthier lives, and so on. Married couples also show higher levels of subjective wellbeing, as revealed in several happiness studies. These previous studies typically offer a single, often generic measure of happiness. The novel contribution of this paper is to offer a more comprehensive perspective of various dimensions of subjective wellbeing. The hypothesis under analysis concerns whether, and if so, how different family types (single, cohabiting, married) and stronger family ties (defined by the presence of children and religious observance) impact the dimensions of subjective wellbeing (satisfaction with economic resources, health, relations, leisure and labour) using Italian data between 2000 and 2015. Our findings shows that married subjects display a consistently higher probability of being satisfied with health, relationships among family and friends, whereas those defined as single display a higher probability of being satisfied with leisure time and to a lesser extent with their work. Finally, married couples also show a higher probability of being satisfied with their economic resources.
    Keywords: family, gender, happiness, wellbeing
    JEL: I31 J12 H12
    Date: 2019–11
  2. By: Elodie Djemai (Universite Paris-Dauphine, PSL Research University, IRD, LEDa, DIAL); Andrew E. Clark (Paris School of Economics - CNRS); Conchita D'Ambrosio (Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences, University of Luxembourg)
    Abstract: Public Goods aim to improve individual welfare. We investigate the causal consequences of roads on well-being for 24 African countries, instrumenting paved roads by 19th Century hypothetical lines between major ports and cities. We have data on over 32000 individuals, and consider both their objective and subjective well-being. Roads reduce material deprivation, in terms of access to basic needs. But at the same time those closer to roads evaluate their living conditions as being worse. This suggests that roads are a double-edged sword in Africa, either being associated with worse outcomes in non basic-needs domains, or increasing individuals' aspirations.
    Keywords: Roads, Subjective Well-being, Basic Needs, Material Deprivation, Africa
    JEL: D63 I32 O18
    Date: 2020–07
  3. By: John Knight; Ramani Gunatilaka
    Abstract: The effect of inequality on happiness should intrigue social scientists. Of the many dimensions of income inequality, we explore four, analysing a rich data set for China. Does actual or perceived inequality have a greater effect on happiness? We find that perceptions of inequality are the more important. How broad is the reference group with which people compare themselves? They report that it is narrow; and indeed narrowly defined inequality has the greater effect on happiness. Do perceptions of the degree of fairness of inequality matter? The degree of perceived fairness is found to ameliorate the adverse effect of inequality on happiness. Is it self-centred or community-centred inequality which affects happiness? Both measures of inequality have significant effects, but in opposite directions. The research and policy implications are discussed.
    Keywords: China; Happiness; Inequality; Reference group
    JEL: D03 D63 Z13
    Date: 2020–10–26
  4. By: Carol Graham (The Brookings Institution); Barton H. Hamilton (Washington University in St. Louis); Yung Chun (Washington University in St. Louis); Stephen Roll (Washington University in St. Louis); Will Ross (Washington University in St. Louis); Karen E. Joynt-Maddox (Washington University in St. Louis); Michal Grinstein-Weiss (Washington University in St. Louis)
    Abstract: Question: In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic revealed differences across racial groups in coping, resilience, and optimism, all of which have implications for health and mental well-being?; Findings: Data obtained from 5,000 US survey respondents using a national sample indicate that, despite extreme income and health disparities before and during the COVID-19 outbreak, Blacks and Hispanics remain more resilient and optimistic than their White counterparts. Moreover, the greatest difference in resilience, optimism and better mental health—is found between poor Blacks and poor Whites, with some linkages to behaviors in compliance with lockdown guidelines; Meaning: These deep differences in resilience have implications for the long-term mental health of different population groups in the face of an unprecedented pandemic. Better understanding these dynamics may provide lessons on how to preserve mental health in the face of public health and other large-scale crises.
    Keywords: COVID-19, mental health, optimism, resilience
    JEL: I14 J15 J24
    Date: 2020–09

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