nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2022‒04‒25
four papers chosen by

  1. Social Preferences and Well-Being: Theory and Evidence By Iwasaki, Masaki
  2. Happy to help: the welfare effects of a nationwide micro-volunteering programme By Dolan, Paul; Krekel, Christian; Shreedhar, Ganga; Lee, Helen; Marshall, Claire; Smith, Allison
  3. The current state of research on the two-way linkages between productivity and well-being By Sharpe, Andrew.; Mobasher Fard, Shahrzad.
  4. The true returns to the choice of occupation and education By Cotofan, Maria; Layard, Richard; Clark, Andrew E.

  1. By: Iwasaki, Masaki
    Abstract: The education systems of many countries emphasize the development of prosocial preferences. Clarifying how these preferences are related to well-being is therefore essential. Although many studies have shown that particular prosocial behaviors increase subjective well-being, it is unclear whether prosocial preferences rather than prosocial behaviors are associated with greater well-being. This study presents a model in which differences in social preferences explain differences in subjective well-being. Then, using survey data from the United States, it finds an association between social preferences and well-being. We measured social preferences using the Slider Measure of social value orientation to evaluate prosociality as a continuous variable. Using the Pemberton Happiness Index, we also measured subjective well-being in terms of the multiple dimensions of general well-being, hedonic well-being, eudaimonic well-being, social well-being, and experienced well-being. Regression analysis revealed that the effect sizes of social value orientation on hedonic well-being and eudaimonic well-being were 0.19 and 0.15, respectively, which are comparable to the effect sizes of parenthood, income, and education.
    Keywords: Social preferences, Well-being, Social value orientation, Prosociality, Happiness
    JEL: A13 D64 I31
    Date: 2022–03–03
  2. By: Dolan, Paul; Krekel, Christian; Shreedhar, Ganga; Lee, Helen; Marshall, Claire; Smith, Allison
    Abstract: There is a strong suggestion from the existing literature that volunteering improves the wellbeing of those who give up their time to help others, but much of it is correlational and not causal. In this paper, we estimate the wellbeing benefits from volunteering for England's National Health Service (NHS) Volunteer Responders programme, which was set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Using a sample of over 9,000 volunteers, we exploit the oversubscription of the programme and the random assignment of volunteering tasks to estimate causal wellbeing returns, across multiple counterfactuals. We find that active volunteers report significantly higher life satisfaction, feelings of worthwhileness, social connectedness, and belonging to their local communities. A social welfare analysis shows that the benefits of the programme were at least 140 times greater than its costs. Our findings advance our understanding of the ways in which pro-social behaviours can improve personal wellbeing as well as social welfare.
    Keywords: subjective wellbeing; volunteering; pro-social action; quasi-natural experiment; social welfare analysis; 221400/Z/20/Z]
    JEL: I31 I38 D61 D64
    Date: 2021–05–31
  3. By: Sharpe, Andrew.; Mobasher Fard, Shahrzad.
    Abstract: Interest in the topic of well-being has burgeoned in recent years as the weaknesses of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as a proxy for well- being have become more apparent. At the same time, the global economy has experienced a productivity slowdown. Since productivity growth is recognized as being by far the most important long-term source of sustainable gains in living standards, this development has implications for the future of living standards around the world. These two developments raise a number of issues related to the two-way linkages between productivity and well-being. First, does slower productivity growth constitute a significant threat to the betterment of the well-being of the world’s population, and, if so, by how much? Second, given that many indicators of well-being can have positive effects on productivity, should one aspect of any strategy to revive productivity growth be to focus on policies that improve well-being? The objective of this report is to survey the current state of research on the two-way linkages between productivity and well- being.
    Keywords: productivity, wellbeing, measurement
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Cotofan, Maria; Layard, Richard; Clark, Andrew E.
    Abstract: Which occupations are best for wellbeing? There is a large literature on earnings differentials, but less attention has been paid to occupational differences in non-pecuniary rewards. However, information on both types of rewards is needed to understand the dispersion of wellbeing across occupations. We analyse subjective wellbeing in a large representative sample of UK workers to construct a measure of “full earnings”, the sum of earnings and the value of non-pecuniary rewards, in 90 different occupations. We first find that the dispersion of earnings underestimates the extent of inequality in the labour market: the dispersion of full earnings is one-third larger than the dispersion of earnings. Equally, the gender and ethnic gaps in the labour market are larger than data on earnings alone would suggest, and the true returns to completed secondary education (though not to a degree) are underestimated by earnings differences on their own. Finally, we show that our main results are similar, and stronger, for a representative sample of US workers.
    Keywords: occupation; wages; non-pecuniary benefits; inequality
    JEL: I31 J31
    Date: 2021–02–19

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