nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2022‒10‒17
two papers chosen by

  1. Dramatic Effects but Fast Adaptation: Changes in Life Satisfaction and Different Facets of Affective Well-being around the Death of a Partner and Death of a Child By Eva Asselmann; Jule Specht
  2. The Midlife Crisis By Giuntella, Osea; McManus, Sally; Mujcic, Redzo; Oswald, Andrew J.; Powdthavee, Nattavudh; Tohamy, Ahmed

  1. By: Eva Asselmann; Jule Specht
    Abstract: Although everyone would agree that bereavement is extremely stressful, surprisingly little is known about changes in different facets of affective well-being in the years surrounding the death of a loved one. On the basis of the Socio-Economic Panel Study, we examined changes in cognitive well-being (life satisfaction) and different facets of affective well-being (happiness, sadness, anxiety, and anger) in the years around the death of a partner (N =989) and child (N =276). Data on the death of a partner and child as well as cognitive and affective well-being were assessed yearly since 2007. Multilevel analyses revealed that both events were associated with very large well-being impairments (>1 SD) that were most pronounced for sadness, happiness, and life satisfaction in the first year of bereavement. Afterwards, bereaved individuals managed to recover impressively well: Levels of life satisfaction, happiness, and sadness were on average similar 5 years after losing a partner or child compared with 5 years before the respective loss. Our findings suggest (a) that many individuals tend to be capable to even cope with highly stressful loss experiences and (b) that Set-Point Theory not only applies to life satisfaction but also different facets of affective well-being around the death of a loved one.
    Keywords: Affect, bereavement, grief, life satisfaction, widowhood
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Giuntella, Osea (University of Pittsburgh); McManus, Sally; Mujcic, Redzo (University of Warwick); Oswald, Andrew J. (University of Warwick); Powdthavee, Nattavudh (University of Warwick); Tohamy, Ahmed (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: This paper documents a longitudinal crisis of midlife among the inhabitants of rich nations. Yet middle-aged citizens in our data sets are close to their peak earnings, have typically experienced little or no illness, reside in some of the safest countries in the world, and live in the most prosperous era in human history. This is paradoxical and troubling. The finding is consistent, however, with the prediction – one little-known to economists – of Elliott Jaques (1965). Our analysis does not rest on elementary cross-sectional analysis. Instead the paper uses panel and through-time data on, in total, approximately 500,000 individuals. It checks that the key results are not due to cohort effects. Nor do we rely on simple life-satisfaction measures. The paper shows that there are approximately quadratic hill-shaped patterns in data on midlife suicide, sleeping problems, alcohol dependence, concentration difficulties, memory problems, intense job strain, disabling headaches, suicidal feelings, and extreme depression. We believe the seriousness of this societal problem has not been grasped by the affluent world's policy-makers.
    Keywords: mental health, affluence, suicide, depression, aging, midlife crisis, happiness
    JEL: I31 I14 I12
    Date: 2022–09

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