nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2021‒05‒10
four papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Inequality Beyond GDP: A Long View By Prados de la Escosura, Leandro
  2. Material resources and well-being — Evidence from an Ethiopian housing lottery By Andersen, Asbjørn G.; Kotsadam, Andreas; Somville, Vincent
  3. Neo-humanism and COVID-19: Opportunities for a socially and environmentally sustainable world By Francesco Sarracino; Kelsey J. O'Connor
  4. Caught between Cultures: Unintended Consequences of Improving Opportunity for Immigrant Girls By Dahl, Gordon; Felfe, Christina; Frijters, Paul; Rainer, Helmut

  1. By: Prados de la Escosura, Leandro
    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: Augmented Human Development; Civil and Political Liberties; GDP; inequality; Life Expectancy; schooling; Well-being
    JEL: I00 N30 O15 O50
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Andersen, Asbjørn G. (Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research); Kotsadam, Andreas (Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research); Somville, Vincent (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)
    Abstract: Do better material conditions improve well-being and mental health? Or does any positive relationship merely reflect that psychological well-being promotes economic success? We supply new responses to these questions by comparing winners and losers from a large Ethiopian housing lottery in a preregistered analysis. Winners gain access to better housing, experience a substantial increase in wealth, and report higher levels of overall life satisfaction and lower levels of financial distress. However, we find no effects of winning on psychological distress, suggesting that depression and anxiety involve other causal determinants and are less sensitive to economic conditions than life satisfaction is.
    Keywords: Housing lottery; Mental health
    JEL: I00
    Date: 2021–04–26
  3. By: Francesco Sarracino (STATEC Research, GLO); Kelsey J. O'Connor (STATEC Research, IZA, GLO)
    Abstract: A series of crises, culminating with COVID-19, shows that going Beyond GDP is urgently necessary. Social and environmental degradation are consequences of emphasizing GDP as a measure of progress. This degradation created the conditions for the COVID-19 pandemic and limited the efficacy of counter-measures. Additionally, rich countries did not fare the pandemic much better than poor ones. COVID-19 thrived on inequalities and a lack of cooperation. In this article we leverage on defensive growth models to explain the complex relationships between these factors, and we put forward the idea of neo-humanism, a cultural movement grounded on evidence from quality-of-life studies. The movement proposes a new culture leading towards a socially and environmentally sustainable future. Specifically, neo-humanism suggests that prioritizing well-being by, for instance, promoting social relations, would benefit the environment, enable collective action to address public issues, which in turn positively affects productivity and health, among other behavioral outcomes, and thereby instills a virtuous cycle. Arguably, such a society would have been better endowed to cope with COVID-19, and possibly even prevented the pandemic. Neo-humanism proposes a world in which the well-being of people comes before the well-being of markets, in which promoting cooperation and social relations represents the starting point for better lives, and a peaceful and respectful coexistence with other species on Earth.
    Date: 2021–05
  4. By: Dahl, Gordon; Felfe, Christina; Frijters, Paul; Rainer, Helmut
    Abstract: What happens when immigrant girls are given increased opportunities to integrate into the workplace and society, but their parents value more traditional cultural outcomes? We answer this question in the context of a reform which granted automatic birthright citizenship to eligible immigrant children born in Germany after January 1, 2000. Using survey data we collected from students in 57 schools and comparing those born in the months before versus after the reform, we find the introduction of birthright citizenship lowers measures of life satisfaction and self-esteem for immigrant girls by .32 and .25 standard deviations, respectively. This is especially true for Muslims, where parents are likely to prefer more traditional cultural outcomes than their daughters. Moreover, we find that Muslim girls granted birthright citizenship are less integrated into German society: they are both more socially isolated and less likely to self-identify as German. Exploring mechanisms for these unintended drops in well-being and assimilation, we find that immigrant Muslim parents invest less in their daughters' schooling and that these daughters receive worse grades in school if they are born after the reform. Consistent with a rise in intrafamily conflict, birthright citizenship results in disillusionment where immigrant Muslim girls believe their chances of achieving their educational goals are lower and the perceived odds of having to forgo a career for a family rise. In contrast, immigrant boys experience, if anything, an improvement in well-being, integration, and schooling outcomes. Taken together, the findings point towards immigrant girls being pushed by parents to conform to a role within traditional culture, whereas boys are allowed to take advantage of the opportunities that come with citizenship. To explain these findings, we construct a simple game-theoretic model which builds on Akerlof and Kranton (2000), where identity-concerned parents constrain their daughter's choices, and hence lower their daughter's well-being, when faced with the threat of integration. Alternative models can explain some of the findings in isolation.
    JEL: J15 J16
    Date: 2021–01

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