nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2020‒12‒07
five papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Observing traumatic events: Indirect effects of flood shocks on well-being and preferences By Stein, Wiebke; Weisser, Reinhard A.
  2. Using memories to assess the intrapersonal comparability of wellbeing reports By Kaiser, Caspar
  3. The impact of cash transfers on subjective well-being and mental health in low- and middle- income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis By McGuire, Joel; Kaiser, Caspar; Bach-Mortensen, Anders
  4. Parental gender stereotypes and student wellbeing in China By Chu, Shuai; Zeng, Xiangquan; Zimmermann, Klaus F.
  5. Are Italians getting multidimensionally poorer? Evidence on the lack of Equitable and Sustainable Well-being By Dalila de Rosa

  1. By: Stein, Wiebke; Weisser, Reinhard A.
    Abstract: This paper investigates how witnessing adverse weather events affects individuals' perceptions and consequently their personal well-being. To identify potential exposure to a weather shock, we link satellite-based data on flooding to an extensive household panel survey from rural Southeast Asia. We find that mere proximity to a potentially adverse shock, even without reporting any actual experience of the shock, can be sufficient to reduce individual well-being levels. This effect is not only restricted to the present but can also impinge on expected future well-being dynamics. Such a persistent distortionary effect from witnessing a weather shock may also have politico-economic repercussions by, for instance, altering support for redistributive policies.
    Keywords: Environmental shocks; Perception; Subjective well-being; GIS data; MODIS flood mapping
    JEL: I31 Q51 R23
    Date: 2020–11
  2. By: Kaiser, Caspar
    Abstract: Research on subjective wellbeing typically assumes that responses to survey questions are comparable across respondents and across time. However, if this assumption is violated, standard methods in empirical research may mislead. I address this concern with three contributions. First, I give a theoretical analysis of the extent and direction of bias that may result from violations of this assumption. Second, I propose to use respondents’ stated memories of their past wellbeing to estimate and thereby to correct for differentials in scale use. Third, using the proposed approach, I test whether wellbeing reports are intrapersonally comparable across time. Using BHPS data, I find that the direction in which explanatory variables affect latent satisfaction is typically the same as the direction in which scale use is affected. Unemployment and bereavement appear to have particularly strong effects on scale use. Although discussed in the context of life satisfaction scales, the proposed approach for anchoring response scales is applicable to a wide range of other subjectively reported constructs.
    Keywords: subjective wellbeing,BHPS,life satisfaction,vignettes,memories,differential item functioning
    JEL: C25 I31
    Date: 2020
  3. By: McGuire, Joel; Kaiser, Caspar (University of Oxford); Bach-Mortensen, Anders
    Abstract: Background: A large body of evidence evaluates the impact of cash transfers (CTs) on physical health and economic indicators. A growing amount of research on CTs contains measures of subjective well- being (SWB) and mental health (MH) but no attempt has been made to systematically synthesize this work. Methods/design: We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs and quasi- experimental studies, including peer-reviewed publications and grey literature (e.g. reports, pre-prints, and working papers), conducted over the period 2000-2020, examining the impact of CTs on self- reported SWB and MH outcomes. Results: Two authors (JM and CK) double-screened 1,147 records of potentially relevant studies, finding 38 studies suitable for inclusion in our meta-analysis, covering 100 outcomes and a total sample of n=114,274 individuals. The average effect size (Cohen’s d) of 38 CT studies on our composite outcome of MH and SWB is 0.10 standard deviations (SDs) (95% CI: 0.8, 0.13) for an average time until follow-up of two years. However, there is a substantial amount of heterogeneity in the estimated effects (I-squared = 64% and 95% Prediction interval: 0.0021, 0.215). CT value, both in absolute terms and relative to previous income, are significant predictors of the effect size. We find only weak evidence that the impact diminishes over time. Four randomized controlled trials in our sample were designed to identify the spillover effects of CTs on the SWB and MH outcomes of non-recipients. Two found negative spillovers but the average effect is not statistically significant and is close to zero. Discussion: Cash transfers significantly increase MH and SWB in low- and middle-income countries. More research on the long run (5+ years) effects is needed, as well as further analysis of the community and household spillover effects of cash transfers on MH and SWB outcomes. We encourage the inclusion of MH and SWB metrics in impact evaluations of interventions to enable the assessment of their relative cost-effectiveness at improving lives compared to cash transfers.
    Date: 2020–11–13
  4. By: Chu, Shuai (Renmin University of China and Global Labor Organization.); Zeng, Xiangquan (Renmin University of China and Global Labor Organization.); Zimmermann, Klaus F. (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University, CEPR and Global Labor Organization)
    Abstract: Non-cognitive abilities are supposed to affect students' educational performance, who are challenged by parental expectations and norms. Parental gender stereotypes are shown to strongly decrease student wellbeing in China. Students are strongly more depressed, feeling blue, unhappy, not enjoying life and sad with no male-female differences while parental education does not matter.
    Keywords: Gender identity, gender stereotypes, student wellbeing, non-cognitive abilities, mental health, subjective wellbeing
    JEL: I12 I26 I31 J16 O15
    Date: 2020–11–18
  5. By: Dalila de Rosa (Ministry of Economic and Finance, Department of Finance)
    Abstract: According to official statistics, the last decade has seen the incidence of absolute poverty in Italy sharply growing from 3.3 in 2005 to 7.3 in 2013 and 7.9 in 2016. Still, standard poverty measures consider only the monetary aspect of poverty, neglecting the multidimensional nature of the phenomenon. In this context, solid empirical evidence, as well as a sounded policy interest, fostered national governments and international institutions on tackling multidimensional poverty. Italy has put very low effort on multidimensional poverty. The goal of this paper is to derive a national MPI (multidimensional poverty index) as according to the Alkire-Foster method, by using the National Italian BES framework (equitable and sustainable wellbeing) as the normative basis for the construction of the index. The contribution of the paper is threefold: i) it aims at enhancing the debate on building national MPIs (especially in developed countries) by proposing as normative ground a national framework for measuring wellbeing; ii) it aims at providing empirical evidence on the level, the composition, and the trends of multidimensional poverty in Italian regions; and iii) it wishes to inform policymakers on the nature of such a multidimensional phenomenon. Results highlight that multidimensional poverty boosts over time with the percentage of individuals considered as multidimensionally poor increasing from 9.5 per cent in 2005 to 17.5 per cent in 2015. Moreover, dimensional breakdown report mixed figures across regions and logistic regression shows that being older, female, from the South and married or widowed increase the probability of facing multidimensional poverty.
    Keywords: multidimensional poverty index; equitable and sustainable wellbeing; monetary poverty
    JEL: H12
    Date: 2020–11

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