nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2020‒12‒14
ten papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. The Easterlin Paradox By Easterlin, Richard A.; O’Connor, Kelsey J.
  2. How Do Mass Shootings Affect Community Wellbeing? By Soni, Aparna; Tekin, Erdal
  3. How threatening are transformations of happiness scales to subjective wellbeing research? By Kaiser, Caspar; Vendrik, Maarten C.M.
  4. Parental Gender Stereotypes and Student Wellbeing in China By Chu, Shuai; Zeng, Xiangquan; Zimmermann, Klaus F.
  5. Unions and Workers' Well-being By Laszlo Goerke
  6. Enjoying life takes time and needs people, but economic progress runs and offers things By Pugno, Maurizio
  7. Menstrual Restrictions and Women's Health in Nepal By Rahul Kumar; Bipasha Maity
  8. Therapeutic alliance: How participation in Covid-19 mutual aid groups affects subjective wellbeing and how political identity moderates these effects By Mao, Guanlan; Drury, John; Fernandes-Jesus, Maria; Ntontis, Evangelos
  9. Care-Arrangements and Parental Well-Being during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany By Zoch, Gundula; Bächmann, Ann-Christin; Vicari, Basha
  10. Social contacts in the post-lockdown period By Ambra Poggi

  1. By: Easterlin, Richard A. (University of Southern California); O’Connor, Kelsey J. (STATEC Research – National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies)
    Abstract: The Easterlin Paradox states that at a point in time happiness varies directly with income, both among and within nations, but over time the long-term growth rates of happiness and income are not significantly related. The principal reason for the contradiction is social comparison. At a point in time those with higher income are happier because they are comparing their income to that of others who are less fortunate, and conversely for those with lower income. Over time, however, as incomes rise throughout the population, the incomes of one's comparison group rise along with one's own income and vitiates the otherwise positive effect of own-income growth on happiness. Critics of the Paradox mistakenly present the positive relation of happiness to income in cross-section data or in short-term time fluctuations as contradicting the nil relation of long-term trends.
    Keywords: Easterlin Paradox, economic growth, income, happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, long-term, short-term, trends, fluctuations, transition countries, less developed countries, developed countries
    JEL: I31 D60 O10 O5
    Date: 2020–12
  2. By: Soni, Aparna (American University); Tekin, Erdal (American University)
    Abstract: Over the past four decades, more than 2,300 people have been the victims of mass shootings involving a firearm in the United States. Research shows that mass shootings have significant detrimental effects on the direct victims and their families. However, relatively little is known about the extent to which the impacts of these tragedies are transmitted into communities where they occur, and how they influence people beyond those directly affected. This study uses nationally representative data from the Gallup-Healthways survey to assess the spillover effects of mass shootings on community wellbeing and emotional health outcomes that capture community satisfaction, sense of safety, and levels of stress and worry. We leverage differences in the timing of mass shooting events across counties between 2008 and 2017. We find that mass shootings reduce both community wellbeing and emotional health. According to our results, a mass shooting is associated with a 27 percentage point decline in the likelihood of having excellent community wellbeing and a 13 percentage point decline in the likelihood of having excellent emotional health four weeks following the incident. The effects are stronger and longer lasting among individuals exposed to deadlier mass shootings. Furthermore, the reductions in wellbeing are greater for parents with children below age 18. Our findings suggest that mass shootings have significant societal costs and create negative spillover effects that extend beyond those immediately exposed.
    Keywords: mass shooting, gun, crime, violence, happiness, wellbeing, mental health, depression, homicide
    JEL: I12 I18 K42
    Date: 2020–11
  3. By: Kaiser, Caspar; Vendrik, Maarten C.M. (Macro, International & Labour Economics, Research Centre for Educ and Labour Mark, School of Business and Economics, RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research)
    Abstract: Two recent papers argue that many results based on ordinal reports of happiness can be reversed with suitable monotonic increasing transformations of the associated happiness scale (Bond and Lang 2019; Schröder and Yitzhaki 2017). If true, empirical research utilizing such reports is in trouble. Against this background, we make four main contributions. First, we show that reversals are fundamentally made possible by explanatory variables having heterogenous effects across the distribution of happiness. We derive a simple test of whether reversals are possible by relabelling the scores of reported happiness and deduce bounds for ratios of coefficients under any labelling scheme. Second, we argue that in cases where reversals by relabelling happiness scores are impossible, reversals using an alternative method of Bond and Lang, which is based on ordered probit regressions, are highly speculative. Third, we make apparent that in order to achieve reversals, the analyst must assume that respondents use the response scale in a strongly non-linear fashion. However, drawing from the economic and psychological literature, we present arguments and evidence which suggest that respondents likely use response scales in an approximately linear manner. Fourth, using German SOEP data, we provide additional empirical evidence on whether reversals of effects of standard demographic variables are both possible and plausible. It turns out that reversals by either relabelling or by using Bond & Lang’s approach are impossible or implausible for almost all variables of interest. Although our analysis uses happiness as a special case, our theoretical considerations are applicable to any type of subjective ordinal report.
    JEL: I31 C25
    Date: 2020–12–01
  4. By: Chu, Shuai; Zeng, Xiangquan; Zimmermann, Klaus F.
    Abstract: Non-cognitive abilities are supposed to affect student's 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
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Laszlo Goerke (Institute for Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU), Trier University)
    Abstract: If individuals join a trade union their utility should increase. Therefore, union members can be expected to exhibit higher job satisfaction than comparable non-members. This expectation is not consistent with empirical findings. The evidence sometimes indicates that union members have lower job satisfaction, but overall suggests the absence of a robust correlation. This survey discusses empirically relevant determinants of the relationship between trade union membership and job satisfaction. It distinguishes settings in which a trade union provides public goods from those in which it restricts the provision of benefits to its members. Furthermore, the survey summarizes the empirical evidence and indicates possible future research issues.
    Keywords: Collective Bargaining Coverage, Job Satisfaction, Life Satisfaction, Trade Union Membership
    JEL: I31 J28 J51 J52
    Date: 2020–08
  6. By: Pugno, Maurizio
    Abstract: People gain enjoyment from exercising their agency and interacting with others in order to accomplish projects and change reality, as is evident from the successful evolution of homo sapiens. Hence, time can be enjoyable in both pursuing and achieving socially valued goals. Since modern economic progress offers products in growing abundance, thus increasingly exploiting individuals’ time and interaction, people are tempted to seek enjoyment in another way, i.e. in consumption itself, as homo economicus would suggest. On the basis of various evidence, the paper argues that people can choose between these two ways leading to well-being; that the homo economicus way is less effective or even perverse; and that economic progress weakens people’s skill to undertake the homo sapiens way. These arguments help explain why the economy of a country, such as the USA, can grow over decades whereas its citizens become less able to enjoy their lives.
    Keywords: Time, Skills, Social relationships, Well-being, Human development
    JEL: D91 J22 O15
    Date: 2020–11–26
  7. By: Rahul Kumar (Independent Researcher); Bipasha Maity (Ashoka University)
    Abstract: We study the impacts of the ritual of menstrual restrictions on women's healthcare utilization, acceptability of domestic violence and subjective well-being in Nepal. These restrictions, also practised around the time of childbirth, are based on the assumption that women are ritually impure during menstruation and childbirth. We use the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) for Nepal and apply binary regression and propensity score matching methods as well as investigate the implications of plausible omitted variable bias on our estimated treatment effect of menstrual restrictions. We find that women faced with menstrual restrictions are more likely to give birth at home and receive assistance from untrained individuals during childbirth, which increases the risk of maternal mortality. We also find lower usage of contraception in some specifications. Women subjected to these rituals are also found to have greater acceptability of domestic violence by their husbands. Lastly, we found lower subjective well-being among younger women who have been subjected to these restrictions, but this finding was statistically significant only when women faced the strictest restrictions during menstruation. These results indicate that menstrual restriction related rituals can have persistent negative implications on women's well-being that is not just limited to the time of menstruation. Thus, these practices are important impediments in achieving the sustainable development goals of gender equality and good health and well-being for all.
    Keywords: menstruation; Chhaupadi; health; mortality; women; Nepal
    Date: 2020–11
  8. By: Mao, Guanlan; Drury, John; Fernandes-Jesus, Maria; Ntontis, Evangelos
    Abstract: Mutual aid groups have flourished during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a major challenge is sustaining such groups, which tend to decline following the initial upsurge immediately after emergencies. The present study investigates one possible motivation for continued participation: the wellbeing benefits associated with psychological membership of groups, as suggested by the ‘social cure’ approach. Interviews were conducted with 11 volunteers in a mutual aid group organised by ACORN, a community union and anti-poverty campaigning organisation. Through qualitative analysis we show that participation provided wellbeing in different ways: positive emotional experiences, increased engagement in life, improved social relationships, and greater sense of control. Participants also reported some negative emotional experiences. Whilst all interviewees experienced benefits from participation, those who viewed their participation through a political lens were able to experience additional benefits such as feelings of empowerment. Moreover, the benefits conferred by a shared political identity appeared to be qualitatively different from the benefits conferred by other forms of shared identity. The interview data is used to hypothesise an overall process by which participants may come to attain a political identity via mutual aid. These findings have implications for how such groups retain their members and how authorities support these groups.
    Date: 2020–11–22
  9. By: Zoch, Gundula; Bächmann, Ann-Christin (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany]); Vicari, Basha (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany])
    Abstract: "This study examines the short-term consequences for care-arrangements and resulting changes in well-being among parents, who were affected by the closure of schools and institutional child-care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. By applying multinomial logistic regression models to novel panel data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS-Corona_CAWI_C2), the study finds that mothers play a key role in the ad-hoc care-arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic confirming the traditional division of family work in German couples. Moreover, the results illustrate the importance of working conditions, especially the possibility of remote work, in the bargaining processes of parents. However, contrary to our assumptions, parents' well-being was not influenced by the chosen care-arrangement during the first months of the crisis." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku) ((en)) Additional Information also released (possibly different) as: LIfBi working paper (2020), 91 later released (possibly different) in: European Societies, (2020), online first, 1-14
    Keywords: Arbeitsbedingungen, Hausarbeit, erwerbstätige Männer, erwerbstätige Frauen, beruflicher Status, Kinderbetreuung, geschlechtsspezifische Faktoren, Pandemie, Arbeitsteilung, Eltern, soziale Ungleichheit, Kinder, Mütter, Väter, Nationales Bildungspanel
    Date: 2020–11–17
  10. By: Ambra Poggi
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought tighter restrictions on the daily lives of millions of people. In this paper, we investigate the effects of the pandemic on social contacts during the post-lockdown period in the UK. We find a negative correlation between social contacts and individual concerns for health risks and a new lockdown. We also find a substantial “inefficiency” in socialization in the post-lockdown period. These results support a scenario in which social contacts stay low for a long while, perhaps impacting negatively on wellbeing in the long run.
    Keywords: social contacts, COVID-19, count model, inefficiency
    JEL: Z13 D91 H12 I18 C13
    Date: 2020–12

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