nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2021‒02‒08
eight papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Individual subjective wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic By Long, Trinh Quang
  2. Happiness and Air Pollution By Arik Levinson
  3. A local community course that raises mental wellbeing and pro-sociality By Krekel, Christian; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy; Layard, Richard
  4. Changes in Well-Being Around Elections By Schreiner, Nicolas
  5. Home-based work, time endowments, and subjective well-being: Gender differences in the United Kingdom By Gimenez-Nadal, Jose Ignacio; Velilla, Jorge
  6. Twitter Subjective Well-Being Indicator During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Country Comparative Study By Tiziana Carpi; Airo Hino; Stefano Maria Iacus; Giuseppe Porro
  7. Parental well-being in times of Covid-19 in Germany By Mathias Huebener; Nico A. Siegel; C. Katharina Spiess; Gert G. Wagner; Sevrin Waights
  8. Quality of life in a dynamic spatial model By Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt; Fabian Bald; Duncan Roth; Tobias Seidel

  1. By: Long, Trinh Quang
    Abstract: This paper examines how contextual and institutional factors are associated with individual subjective wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data collected in China, Korea, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US) in April 2020, we found that the financial effects (represented by employment and income change) and non-financial effects (representing by experiencing negative feelings and enjoying positive activities) of the pandemic are associated with individual wellbeing. Moreover, the degree to which people agree with their government’s approach to COVID-19 is positively correlated with their happiness. The risks associated with the pandemic, however, are only slightly associated with people’s happiness. We also found that the correlation between above factors and individual wellbeing varied from country to country.
    Keywords: wellbeing, happiness, COVID-19
    JEL: D01 D60 I31
    Date: 2020–06–01
  2. By: Arik Levinson (Department of Economics, Georgetown University)
    Abstract: I pose three questions: Does pollution make people unhappy? How much? And is the effect proportional to pollution’s estimated effects on mortality and productivity? Answers to those three questions must overcome three obstacles: unobserved characteristics of locales correlated with both pollution and happiness; selection by pollution-averse individuals to less polluted areas; and habituation by residents to local circumstances. Since 2010, when the initial few studies relating happiness to pollution were last surveyed, thirty more have been published. I discuss how the new studies tackle each of those three problems and I devise a method of comparing their findings despite their different measures of both happiness and pollution. I combine the happiness and income coefficients from each study into a willingness-to-pay measure, for a one-day, one-standard-deviation pollution reduction. Finally, I document a surprising concordance between those calculated willingness-to-pay measures and new research assessing the effects of pollution on mortality and productivity
    Keywords: Stated well-being, willingness-to-pay, habituation, short-termism
    JEL: Q51 Q53 H41
    Date: 2020–09–30
  3. By: Krekel, Christian; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy; Layard, Richard
    Abstract: Although correlates of mental wellbeing have been extensively studied, relatively little is known about how to effectively raise mental wellbeing in local communities by means of intervention. We conduct a randomised controlled trial of the "Exploring What Matters" course, a scalable social-psychological intervention aimed at raising general adult population mental wellbeing and pro-sociality. The manualised course is run by non-expert volunteers in their local communities and to date has been conducted in more than 26 countries around the world. We find that it has strong, positive causal effects on participants' selfreported subjective wellbeing (life satisfaction increases by about 63% of a standard deviation) and prosociality (social trust increases by about 53% of a standard deviation) while reducing measures of mental ill health (PHQ-9 and GAD-7 decrease by about 50% and 42% of a standard deviation, respectively). Impacts seem to be sustained two months post-treatment. We complement self-reported outcomes with biomarkers collected through saliva samples, including cortisol and a range of cytokines involved in inflammatory response. These move consistently into the hypothesised direction but are noisy and do not reach statistical significance at conventional levels
    Keywords: international trade; export demand; import competition; productivity; allocative efficiency; misallocation
    JEL: C93 I12 I31
    Date: 2020–01
  4. By: Schreiner, Nicolas (University of Basel)
    Abstract: Elections constitute the essential element of democracy, yet surprisingly little is known about their immediate consequences for individual well-being. Cross-country empirical evidence is particularly absent for the campaign period leading up to elections. While elections as a process allow citizens to contribute to democratic quality, they are also intrinsically conflictual and require voters to exert effort to make informed decisions. To measure the aggregate changes in well-being along the entirety of the electoral process, I use survey data from before and after 148 national elections in 24 European countries between 1989 and 2019. Respondents interviewed in the months preceding election day report significantly lower levels of life satisfaction than their compatriots asked the same calendar week but in years without elections. Once voting has taken place, aggregate well-being immediately returns to its regular average. Exploratory analyses suggest that partisan conflict and social pressures regarding democratic participation may play a role in explaining the reduction in life satisfaction before elections.
    Keywords: elections, well-being, life satisfaction, election campaigns, electoral systems, political polarization, eurobarometer
    JEL: D72 D91 I31
    Date: 2021–01–21
  5. By: Gimenez-Nadal, Jose Ignacio; Velilla, Jorge
    Abstract: The confinement caused by Covid-19, and the associated promotion of telework to reduce exposure of workers to the disease, have clear implications for worker daily behaviors and well-being. This paper empirically explores the differences between commuters’ and teleworkers’ time allocations during their workdays, and the instant enjoyment experienced while doing such activities, with a focus on gender differences. Using detailed information from the UK Time Use Survey for the years 2014-2015, the results show a statistically significant cut in female and male paid work time associated with teleworking. On the other hand, teleworkers spend more time than commuters in unpaid work and leisure activities. The results also reveal a cut in women’s experienced enjoyment while doing telework, while male teleworkers enjoy their leisure more than do commuters. These results suggest that confinement policies promoting teleworking may impact not only worker time allocations, but also individual well-being, and such an impact may differ between men and women, leading to intrahousehold imbalances.
    Keywords: Gender difference; telework; time use; subjective well-being; UKTUS
    JEL: D1
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Tiziana Carpi; Airo Hino; Stefano Maria Iacus; Giuseppe Porro
    Abstract: This study analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the subjective well-being as measured through Twitter data indicators for Japan and Italy. It turns out that, overall, the subjective well-being dropped by 11.7% for Italy and 8.3% for Japan in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the last two months of 2019 and even more compared to the historical mean of the indexes. Through a data science approach we try to identify the possible causes of this drop down by considering several explanatory variables including, climate and air quality data, number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, Facebook Covid and flu symptoms global survey, Google Trends data and coronavirus-related searches, Google mobility data, policy intervention measures, economic variables and their Google Trends proxies, as well as health and stress proxy variables based on big data. We show that a simple static regression model is not able to capture the complexity of well-being and therefore we propose a dynamic elastic net approach to show how different group of factors may impact the well-being in different periods, even over a short time length, and showing further country-specific aspects. Finally, a structural equation modeling analysis tries to address the causal relationships among the COVID-19 factors and subjective well-being showing that, overall, prolonged mobility restrictions,flu and Covid-like symptoms, economic uncertainty, social distancing and news about the pandemic have negative effects on the subjective well-being.
    Date: 2021–01
  7. By: Mathias Huebener; Nico A. Siegel; C. Katharina Spiess; Gert G. Wagner; Sevrin Waights
    Abstract: We examine the differential effects of Covid-19 and related restrictions on individuals with dependent children in Germany. We specifically focus on the role of school and day care center closures, which may be regarded as a "disruptive exogenous shock" to family life. We make use of a novel representative survey of parental well-being collected in May and June 2020 in Germany, when schools and day care centers were closed but while other measures had been relaxed and new infections were low. In our descriptive analysis, we compare well-being during this period with a pre-crisis period for different groups. In a difference-in-differences design, we compare the change for individuals with children to the change for individuals without children, accounting for unrelated trends as well as potential survey mode and context effects. We find that the crisis lowered the relative well-being of individuals with children, especially for individuals with young children, for women, and for persons with lower secondary schooling qualifications. Our results suggest that public policy measures taken to contain Covid-19 can have large effects on family well-being, with implications for child development and parental labor market outcomes.
    Keywords: Well-being, Covid-19, Corona virus, day care closures, school closures, COMPASS, SOEP
    JEL: D1 H12 H75 I2
    Date: 2020–08
  8. By: Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt; Fabian Bald; Duncan Roth; Tobias Seidel
    Abstract: We develop a dynamic spatial model in which heterogeneous workers are imperfectly mobile and forward-looking and yet all structural fundamentals can be inverted without assuming that the economy is in a stationary spatial equilibrium. Exploiting this novel feature of the model, we show that the canonical spatial equilibrium framework understates spatial quality of-life differentials, the urban quality-of-life premium and the value of local non-marketed goods. Unlike the canonical spatial equilibrium framework, the model quantitatively accounts for local welfare effects that motivate many place-based policies seeking to improve quality of life.
    Keywords: Covid-19, dynamic, housing, migration, rents, pollution, productivity, spatial equilibrium, quality of life, wages, welfare, economic geography, productivity, wages, wellbeing
    JEL: J2 J3 R2 R3 R5
    Date: 2020–12

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