nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2022‒05‒30
seven papers chosen by

  1. Are Africans happy? 'Return to laughter' in times of war, famine and misery By Kohnert, Dirk
  2. Wellbeing By Richard Layard
  3. Are happier people more compliant? Global evidence from three large-scale surveys during Covid-19 lockdowns By Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Daisy Fancourt; Christian Krekel; Sarah Swanke
  4. Конкуренция, сотрудничество и удовлетворенность жизнью Часть 1. Семерка европейских лидеров By Polterovich, Victor
  5. Does Friendship Stem from Altruism? Adam Smith and the Distinction between Love-based and Interest-based Preferences By Khalil, Elias
  6. “And Breathe Normally†: The Low Emission Zone impacts on health and well-being in England. By Beshir, H.A.;; Fichera, E.;
  7. Who supports war for justice and why? Evidence from Russia and Ukraine By Mohammad Reza Farzanegan; Sven Fischer

  1. By: Kohnert, Dirk
    Abstract: Happiness is a universal state of mind. However, its meaning takes on culture-specific forms, ranging from emotional states of mind to life satisfaction. The definition of 'happiness' is strongly influenced by the respective philosophical background and material living conditions and is shaped by linguistic differences. Even within countries, location and social structure are important in the conceptualization and measurement of wellbeing. Exceptions prove the rule. In Laura Bohannan’s classic anthropological study of the Tiv in the Nigerian Middle Belt in the 1950s, the ‘return to laughter’ signified the laughter of despair, e.g. when people laughed at human misery given omnipresent witchcraft. Another exemption of the rule is related to COVID-19 lockdowns that were associated with a drop in satisfaction, regardless of country-specific characteristics or the type and duration of the lockdown. In Sub-Saharan Africa both the level of happiness and the level of income have shown increasing tendencies in recent decades. However, trends in inequality between indicators of income and happiness can diverge significantly. In general, happiness does not automatically increase with increasing income but lags behind. As shown by the economy of happiness, this paradox does not appear to occur in countries like South Africa, the most unequal country in the world. The country registered growing equality of happiness despite rising income inequality. Obviously, the absolute impact of income and happiness inequality at the country level is more important than the relative impact. Hence, happiness inequality, in general, can be a useful supplementary measure of inequality, particularly in Africa, which is considered a 'black spot' when it comes to happiness research.
    Keywords: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, happiness, philosophy of happiness, happiness economics, World Happiness Report, Easterlin paradox, religion, social inequality, income inequality, social structure, African poverty, famine, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana
    JEL: D01 D11 D31 D64 D87 E26 F54 I14 I24 I32 J17 N17 N37 O15 O17 O55 Z13
    Date: 2022–05–03
  2. By: Richard Layard
    Abstract: As societies become richer, they do not become happier. This paradox has led to a growing interest in the science of wellbeing, and how policymakers can evaluate policies in terms of what will improve wellbeing. Economists investigate what is important for wellbeing and the influence of wellbeing on working life, education and health.
    Keywords: Climate Change, Education, Employment, Health, Inequality, Unemployment, Wellbeing, Wages, Happiness, Public Policy
    Date: 2022–03–14
  3. By: Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Daisy Fancourt; Christian Krekel; Sarah Swanke
    Abstract: Around the world, governments have been asking their citizens to practice physical distancing and stay at home to contain the spread of Covid-19. Are happier people more willing to comply with these measures? Using three independent surveys covering over 119,000 adult respondents across 35 countries, including longitudinal data from the UK, we test competing psychological theories, and find that past and present happiness predicts compliance during lockdown. The relationship is stronger for those with higher levels of happiness. A negative mood, or loss in happiness, predicts lower compliance. We explore risk-avoidance and pro-social motivations for compliance, and find that these are not uniform but dependent on personal characteristics and context: people who are older or have certain medical preconditions seem to be predominantly motivated by risk-avoidance, whereas motivations of people who are less at risk of Covid-19 seem more mixed. Our findings have implications for policy design, targeting, and communication.
    Keywords: COVID-19, happiness, lockdown compliance, mood maintenance, pro-sociality, risk avoidance
    JEL: D91 I12 I31
    Date: 2020–09–28
  4. By: Polterovich, Victor
    Abstract: The first part of this paper demonstrates that a group of seven European countries is significantly ahead of other Western states, including the United States, in the development of economic and political institutions. The Seven are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. They rank first in the life satisfaction index (happiness index) and are leaders in the integral index of quality of life, civic culture, and institutional effectiveness which is formed by aggregating ten most important indicators. These include healthy life expectancy at birth, the corruption perception index, the democracy index, the human development index, the Gini index and a number of others. When this index is used to cluster the set of developed countries, the Seven appears to be the leading cluster. This result suggests that the achievement of high values of the proposed index contributes to the country's advancement to the leading positions in life satisfaction. An analysis of the dynamics of institutional indicators showed that the U.S. lagging behind the Seven has been increasing over time. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the flawed democracies, the levels of generalized trust of U.S. citizens as well as trust in political institutions and in the government are decreasing, the U.S. advantages in terms of global competitiveness and per capita GDP are diminishing. The second part of the paper will consider what qualitative features of socio-economic and political mechanisms provide leadership, and how our findings can be used to develop catch-up strategies.
    Keywords: happiness index, Nordic exceptionalism, U.S. lagging behind, collaboration, clustering, nearest neighbor method
    JEL: O10 O52 P10 P41 P51
    Date: 2022–04–30
  5. By: Khalil, Elias
    Abstract: Friendship-and-love expresses musings about wellbeing—while “wellbeing” is the economist’s substantive satisfaction. Insofar as altruism is about wellbeing, it must differ from friendship-and-love. However, what is the basis of the difference between substantive satisfaction and friendship-and-love? The answer can be found in Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, chapter 2: how “mutual sympathy” differs from “sympathy.” Smith scholars generally miss the uniqueness of “mutual sympathy” and, indeed, fold it under Smith’s “sympathy” (and “empathy”)—with one exception. Robert Sugden highlights the uniqueness of mutual sympathy. However, he goes to the other end, i.e., folds it under Smith’s sympathy-and-empathy”. This paper aims to avoid the folding in either direction. While mutual sympathy originates love-based sociality (friendship-and-love), sympathy-and-empathy originates interest-based sociality (wellbeing that includes altruism). This paper concludes that friendship is neither reducible to altruism nor vice versa. Further, this paper distinguishes this problem from the question regarding the socialization of the individual.
    Date: 2022–04–09
  6. By: Beshir, H.A.;; Fichera, E.;
    Abstract: Air pollution is a global concern for its negative externalities on the climate, but also on the healthcare sector and human capital accumulation. Yet, there is scant evidence on the effectiveness of clean air transport policies. In this study we investigate the effects of London’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) on health and well-being. We exploit the temporal and spatial variation of these policies, implemented in Greater London (LEZ) and Central London (ULEZ) in 2008 and 2019, respectively. Using a difference-in-differences approach and linked survey and administrative data, we find LEZ has significantly reduced PM10 by 12% of the baseline mean and ULEZ has reduced both NO2 by 12.4% and PM10 by 27%. We also show improvements in health with LEZ reducing limiting health problems by 7%, COPD by 14.5% and sick leave by 17%; and ULEZ reducing number of health conditions by 22.5%, anxiety by 6.5%, and sick leave by 18%. A back of the envelope cost-benefit analysis indicates savings for £963.7M for the overall population.
    Keywords: air pollution; well-being; low emission zones;
    JEL: I25 J1 O12
    Date: 2022–05
  7. By: Mohammad Reza Farzanegan (University of Marburg); Sven Fischer (University of Marburg)
    Abstract: We study the acceptability of war as a necessary tool to obtain justice under certain conditions across individuals from Russia and Ukraine in 2011. We discuss which socio-economic, political and individual characteristics shape the support for using destructive military force to achieve justice. Overall, the acceptance of war for justice is relatively low in both countries. Using logistic regressions, we found that there are characteristics that significantly reduce the support for war for justice in both countries, such as gender and level of happiness. Support in both countries is also significantly larger among respondents who are interested in politics and are married. Additionally, there are conditions which produce different results between the countries, such as religiosity, country aims, employment, confidence in the government, concern over possible war and political orientation.
    Date: 2022

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