nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2021‒03‒29
four papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. What Do Happiness Data Mean? Theory and Survey Evidence By Daniel J. Benjamin; Jakina Debnam Guzman; Marc Fleurbaey; Ori Heffetz; Miles S. Kimball
  2. Migration, crime and life satisfaction in Chile: Pre and post-migration evidence. By Chenevier, Randall; Piper, Alan T.; Willis, Craig
  3. Inequality Beyond GDP: A Long View By Leandro Prados de la Escosura
  4. Resilience to Disaster: Evidence from Daily Wellbeing Data By Frijters, Paul; Johnston, David W.; Knott, Rachel; Torgler, Benno

  1. By: Daniel J. Benjamin; Jakina Debnam Guzman; Marc Fleurbaey; Ori Heffetz; Miles S. Kimball
    Abstract: What utility notion do self-reported well-being (SWB) questions measure? We clarify the assumptions that underlie existing applications regarding the (i) life domains, (ii) time horizons, and (iii) other-regarding preferences captured by SWB data. We ask survey respondents what they had in mind regarding (i)–(iii) when answering commonly used—life satisfaction, happiness, ladder—and new SWB questions. Respondents put most weight on the present and on themselves—but not enough to interpret SWB data as measuring notions of flow utility and self-centered utility. We find differences across SWB questions and across sociodemographic groups. We outline actionable suggestions for SWB researchers.
    JEL: D69 D90 I31
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Chenevier, Randall; Piper, Alan T.; Willis, Craig
    Abstract: Every year many Chileans migrate, an increasing trend. Academic literature often highlights the roles of individual well-being and crime among important reasons for migration in general. We contribute to this literature by focusing on Chile. This investigation considers, with multiple years of a secondary dataset, the intention to migrate and, with a primary data sample, the post migration life of Chileans. We find that Chileans are more likely to migrate if they are less satisfied with life, have themselves or a family member been a victim of crime, are highly dissatisfied with their income, at least reasonably well-educated, self-employed and male. We also present tentative evidence that, for those who have migrated, being a victim of crime when in Chile is associated with greater life satisfaction in the host country. Policy implications are also presented, reflecting the desire of the Chilean government desire to slow this increasing trend of migration.
    Keywords: Crime; Migration; Life Satisfaction; Chile; Latinobarometer
    JEL: F22 I31 N36
    Date: 2021–03
  3. By: Leandro Prados de la Escosura (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
    Abstract: The study of international well-being and its distribution remains focused on income. This paper addresses multidimensional well-being from a capabilities perspective during the last one-and-a-half centuries. Relative inequality (population-weighted) fell in health and education since the late 1920s, due to the globalisation of mass schooling and the health transition, but only dropped from 1970 onwards in terms of political and civil liberties, and declined since 1900 for augmented human development. These results are at odds with per capita income inequality that rose over time and only shrank from 1990 onwards. Relative and absolute well-being distribution behaved differently, with the distance between countries shrinking in relative terms but widening in absolute terms. Countries in the middle and lower deciles of the world distribution achieved the largest relative gain over the last century. Education and political and civil liberties were the main contributors to the evolution of augmented human development inequality, although longevity made a substantial contribution until the 1920s.
    Keywords: Inequality, Well-being, Life Expectancy, Schooling, Civil and Political Liberties, GDP, Augmented Human Development
    JEL: I00 N30 O15 O50
    Date: 2021–03
  4. By: Frijters, Paul (London School of Economics); Johnston, David W. (Monash University); Knott, Rachel (Monash University); Torgler, Benno (Queensland University of Technology)
    Abstract: As the severity and frequency of natural disasters become more pronounced with climate change and the increased habitation of at-risk areas, it is important to understand people's resilience to them. We quantify resilience by estimating how natural disasters in the US impacted individual wellbeing in a sample of 2.2 million observations, and whether the effect sizes differed by individual- and county-level factors. The event-study design contrasts changes in wellbeing in counties affected by disasters with that of residents in unaffected counties of the same state. We find that people's hedonic wellbeing is reduced by approximately 6% of a standard deviation in the first two weeks following the event, with the effect diminishing rapidly thereafter. The negative effects are driven by White, older, and economically advantaged sub-populations, who exhibit less resilience. We find no evidence that existing indices of community resilience moderate impacts. Our conclusion is that people in the US are, at present, highly resilient to natural disasters.
    Keywords: wellbeing, resilience, natural disasters, institutions, adaptation
    JEL: I31 I38
    Date: 2021–03

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