nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2021‒02‒15
seven papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Measuring National Happiness with Music By Benetos, Emmanouil; Ragano, Alessandro; Sgroi, Daniel; Tuckwell, Anthony
  2. A local community course that raises mental wellbeing and pro-sociality By Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Daisy Fancourt; Christian Krekel; Richard Layard
  3. The Effect of Grandchildren on the Happiness of Grandparents: Does the Grandparent's Child's Gender Matter? By Yamamura, Eiji; Brunello, Giorgio
  4. COVID-19, lockdowns and well-being: evidence from Google Trends By Brodeur, Abel; Clark, Andrew E.; Fleche, Sarah; Powdthavee, Nattavudh
  5. Multiple Dimensions of Human Development Index and Public Social Spending for Sustainable Development By Iana Paliova; Robert McNown; Grant Nülle
  6. Urban Happiness from Mobility in Neighborhoods and Downtown: The Case of the Metropolitan Area of Aburra Valley By Cardona, Ángel Emilio Muñoz; Soto, Lorena Martínez; Miranda, Mauricio Manrique; Institute of Research, Asian
  7. Is the Capability approach a useful tool for decision aiding in public policy making? By Nicolas Fayard; Chabane Mazri; Alexis Tsouki\`as

  1. By: Benetos, Emmanouil (Queen Mary University of London and The Alan Turing Institute); Ragano, Alessandro (University College Dublin); Sgroi, Daniel (University of Warwick, ESRC CAGE Centre and IZA Bonn.); Tuckwell, Anthony (University of Warwick and ESRC CAGE Centre.)
    Abstract: We propose a new measure for national happiness based on the emotional content of a country’s most popular songs. Using machine learning to detect the valence of the UK’s chart-topping song of each year since the 1970s, we find that it reliably predicts the leading survey-based measure of life satisfaction. Moreover, we find that music valence is better able to predict life satisfaction than a recently-proposed measure of happiness based on the valence of words in books (Hills et al., 2019). Our results have implications for the role of music in society, and at the same time validate a new use of music as a measure of public sentiment.
    Keywords: subjective wellbeing, life satisfaction, national happiness, music information retrieval, machine learning. JEL Classification: N30, Z11, Z13
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Daisy Fancourt; Christian Krekel; Richard Layard
    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' self-reported subjective wellbeing (life satisfaction increases by about 63% of a standard deviation) and pro-sociality (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: Wellbeing, Pro-Social Behaviour, Communities, Intervention, RCT
    JEL: C93 I12 I31
    Date: 2020–01
  3. By: Yamamura, Eiji (Seinan Gakuin University); Brunello, Giorgio (University of Padova)
    Abstract: Using a representative sample from Japan and a difference-in-differences strategy, we investigate whether the effect of having grandchildren on the happiness of grandparents varies with the gender of their (own) single child. In line with our expectations, we find that maternal grandmothers have more to lose or less to gain from having grandchildren than paternal grandmothers. In contrast, grandfathers' changes in happiness do not depend on their own child's gender. This result is explained by the fact that grandmothers are more likely to be involved in child-rearing when their daughter has a child.
    Keywords: grandparents, grandchildren, happiness, gender differences
    JEL: J13 J14 J16 I31
    Date: 2021–01
  4. By: Brodeur, Abel; Clark, Andrew E.; Fleche, Sarah; Powdthavee, Nattavudh
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has led many governments to implement lockdowns. While lockdowns may help to contain the spread of the virus, they may result in substantial damage to population well-being. We use Google Trends data to test whether the lockdowns implemented in Europe and America led to changes in well-being related topic search terms. Using differences-in-differences and a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the causal effects of lockdown, we find a substantial increase in the search intensity for boredom in Europe and the US. We also found a significant increase in searches for loneliness, worry and sadness, while searches for stress, suicide and divorce on the contrary fell. Our results suggest that people's mental health may have been severely affected by the lockdown.
    Keywords: boredom; Covid-19; loneliness; well-being; coronavirus
    JEL: I12 I31 J22
    Date: 2020–05–19
  5. By: Iana Paliova; Robert McNown; Grant Nülle
    Abstract: Multidimensional assessment of human development is increasingly recognized as playing an important role in assessing well-being. The focus of analysis is on the indicators measuring the three dimensions of Human Development Index (HDI) — standard of living, education and health, and their relationship with public social spending for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The study estimates the effects of public social spending on gross national income (GNI) per capita (in PPP in $), expected years of schooling and life expectancy for a sample of 68 countries. The relationship is robust to controlling for a variety of factors and the estimated magnitudes suggest a positive long-run effect of public educational spending on GNI per capita, public educational spending on expected years of schooling, and public health expenditures on life expectancy.
    Keywords: Expenditure;Health;Education;Health care spending;Logit models;WP,dependent variable,explanatory variable,GNI,spending
    Date: 2019–09–26
  6. By: Cardona, Ángel Emilio Muñoz; Soto, Lorena Martínez; Miranda, Mauricio Manrique; Institute of Research, Asian
    Abstract: The entrepreneurship on mobility leading to an improved quality of life should be an initiative of young people living in the different neighborhoods of a city. They can even design exemplary models of territorial ordering for responsible mobility. Young people with some degree of university education are more sensitive to the value of designing more humane cities. Hence, all social transformation in citizen co-responsibility has its origin in feelings of empathy, that is, in the search for urban happiness for the achievement of a dignified human life. The research question is how to motivate youth social entrepreneurship in city neighborhoods for mobility and strengthening of citizen culture. The research methodology was based on 710 surveys on Quality of Life and Urban Mobility in the Aburra Valley applied to young university students in their last semester and eight interviews with youth organizations and municipal secretariats of citizenship, and mobility. The study conclusion is that if more than 90% of daily visitors to the city downtown live in the surrounding neighborhoods, then the strengthening of civic culture must begin in those neighborhoods. If the suburban area is organized, the downtown will be organized.
    Date: 2021–01–12
  7. By: Nicolas Fayard; Chabane Mazri; Alexis Tsouki\`as
    Abstract: This paper aims at proposing a model representing individuals' welfare using Sen's capability approach (CA). It is the first step of an attempt to measure the negative impact caused by the damage at a Common on a given population's welfare, and widely speaking, a first step into modelling collective threat. The CA is a multidimensional representation of persons' well-beings which account for human diversity. It has received substantial attention from scholars from different disciplines such as philosophy, economics and social scientist. Nevertheless, there is no empirical work that really fits the theoretical framework. Our goal is to show that the capability approach can be very useful for decision aiding, especially if we fill the gap between the theory and the empirical work; thus we will propose a framework that is both usable and a close representation of what capability is.
    Date: 2021–01

This nep-hap issue is ©2021 by Viviana Di Giovinazzo. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.