nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2022‒11‒07
nine papers chosen by

  1. Gender, Loneliness and Happiness during COVID-19 By Lepinteur, Anthony; Clark, Andrew E.; Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada; Piper, Alan; Schröder, Carsten; D’Ambrosio, Conchita
  2. Anatomy of Brazil’s Subjective Well-Being : A Tale of Growing Discontent and Polarization in the 2010s By Burger,Martijn; Hendriks,Martijn; Ianchovichina,Elena
  3. Human wellbeing and machine learning By Ekaterina Oparina; Caspar Kaiser; Niccolo Gentile; Alexandre Tkatchenko; Andrew E. Clark; Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Conchita D'Ambrosio
  4. Social Contacts, Unemployment, and Experienced Well-Being. Evidence from Time-Use Data By Thi Truong An Hoang; Andreas Knabe
  5. Why known unknowns may be better than knowns, and how that matters for the evolution of happiness By Stennek, Johan
  6. What makes a satisfying life? Prediction and interpretation with machine-learning algorithms By Andrew E. Clark; Conchita D'Ambrosio; Niccolo Gentile; Alexandre Tkatchenko
  7. The well-being cost of inflation inequalities By Alberto Prati
  8. The midlife crisis By Giuntella, Osea; McManus, Sally; Mujcic, Redzo; Oswald, Andrew J; Powthavee, Nattavudh; Tohamy, Ahmed
  9. The 4th Philippine Graduate Tracer Study: Examining Higher Education as a Pathway to Employment, Citizenship, and Life Satisfaction from the Learner's Perspective By Orbeta, Aniceto Jr. C.; Tutor, Melba V.; Miraflor, James Matthew B.

  1. By: Lepinteur, Anthony; Clark, Andrew E.; Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada; Piper, Alan; Schröder, Carsten; D’Ambrosio, Conchita
    Abstract: We analyse a measure of loneliness from a representative sample of German individuals interviewed in both 2017 and at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Both men and women felt lonelier during the COVID-19 pandemic than they did in 2017. The pandemic more than doubled the gender loneliness gap: women were lonelier than men in 2017, and the 2017-2020 rise in loneliness was far larger for women. This rise is mirrored in life-satisfaction scores. Men’s life satisfaction changed only little between 2017 and 2020; yet that of women fell dramatically, and sufficiently so to produce a female penalty in life satisfaction. We estimate that almost all of this female penalty is explained by the disproportionate rise in loneliness for women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Keywords: Loneliness, Life Satisfaction, Gender, COVID-19, SOEP
    Date: 2022–10
  2. By: Burger,Martijn; Hendriks,Martijn; Ianchovichina,Elena
    Abstract: After increasing for years and reaching high levels, Brazil’s subjective well-beingdeteriorated following the economic contraction in 2015. Using data from the Gallup World Poll for the 2010s, thispaper identifies the factors that underpin Brazil’s subjective well-being and its change, paying specialattention to heterogeneity across population groups. Having sufficient income, financial security, economic optimism,satisfaction with living standards and health services, social capital, tertiary education, and digital access arethe main factors associated with subjective well-being. These factors matter to different extents along the incomedistribution and across generations and space. The decline in subjective well-being since 2015 was heterogeneous andmore pronounced among men, rural residents, and the old. Economic expectations increased in importance as theyassumed a greater role in people’s preferences, especially those of men, and more people grew pessimistic about theeconomic outlook. The decline in subjective well-being and the switch in voter support from one end of the politicalspectrum to the other in the 2018 general elections were both associated with the grievances triggered by theeconomic and leadership crisis of the mid-2010s. These grievances signal an erosion in the support for the socialcontract in place since the 1990s and the need to renew it.
    Keywords: Employment and Unemployment,Educational Sciences,Economic Growth,Industrial Economics,Economic Theory & Research,Health Care Services Industry,Tertiary Education
    Date: 2022–02–02
  3. By: Ekaterina Oparina; Caspar Kaiser; Niccolo Gentile; Alexandre Tkatchenko; Andrew E. Clark; Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Conchita D'Ambrosio
    Abstract: There is a vast literature on the determinants of subjective wellbeing. International organisations and statistical offices are now collecting such survey data at scale. However, standard regression models explain surprisingly little of the variation in wellbeing, limiting our ability to predict it. In response, we here assess the potential of Machine Learning (ML) to help us better understand wellbeing. We analyse wellbeing data on over a million respondents from Germany, the UK, and the United States. In terms of predictive power, our ML approaches perform better than traditional models. Although the size of the improvement is small in absolute terms, it is substantial when compared to that of key variables like health. We moreover find that drastically expanding the set of explanatory variables doubles the predictive power of both OLS and the ML approaches on unseen data. The variables identified as important by our ML algorithms - i.e. material conditions, health, and meaningful social relations - are similar to those that have already been identified in the literature. In that sense, our data-driven ML results validate the findings from conventional approaches.
    Keywords: subjective wellbeing, prediction methods, machine learning
    Date: 2022–07–20
  4. By: Thi Truong An Hoang; Andreas Knabe
    Abstract: We use the UK Time-Use Survey 2014/15 to analyze how differences in the frequency and intensity of social contacts contribute to the gap in experienced well-being between employed and unemployed persons. We observe that people generally enjoy being with others more than being alone. The unemployed generally feel worse than the employed when engaging in the same kind of activities, partly because they are more often alone. The unemployed can replace lost work contacts only partially with private contacts. In terms of experienced well-being, however, the small increase in time spent with family and friends (which people enjoy a lot) offsets the loss of work contacts (which people generally enjoy only little). Hence, we do not find that the differences in the social-contact composition between the employed and the unemployed contribute to the difference in their experienced well-being.
    Keywords: unemployment, happiness, experienced well-being, time use, social contact, decomposition
    JEL: I31 D91 J60 J22
    Date: 2022
  5. By: Stennek, Johan (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: Rayo and Becker (2007) model happiness as an imperfect measurement tool: It provides a partial ordering of alternative courses of actions. In this note, decisionmakers use their inability to rank two actions, to infer rankings of other pairs of actions. It is demonstrated that coarser happiness information actually increases the power of inference. As a result behavior is maximizing, not merely satisficing, almost independent of how coarse the happiness information is. Moreover, to support inference, evolution selects a happiness function with different properties than the one maximizing direct sensory information.
    Keywords: Indirect evolutionary approach; utility function
    JEL: B52 D91 I31
    Date: 2022–10
  6. By: Andrew E. Clark; Conchita D'Ambrosio; Niccolo Gentile; Alexandre Tkatchenko
    Abstract: Machine Learning (ML) methods are increasingly being used across a variety of fields and have led to the discovery of intricate relationships between variables. We here apply ML methods to predict and interpret life satisfaction using data from the UK British Cohort Study. We discuss the application of first Penalized Linear Models and then one non-linear method, Random Forests. We present two key model-agnostic interpretative tools for the latter method: Permutation Importance and Shapley Values. With a parsimonious set of explanatory variables, neither Penalized Linear Models nor Random Forests produce major improvements over the standard Non-penalized Linear Model. However, once we consider a richer set of controls these methods do produce a non-negligible improvement in predictive accuracy. Although marital status, and emotional health continue to be the most important predictors of life satisfaction, as in the existing literature, gender becomes insignificant in the non-linear analysis.
    Keywords: life satisfaction, well-being, machine learning, British cohort study
    Date: 2022–06–07
  7. By: Alberto Prati
    Abstract: In terms of well-being, how costly is inflation? To answer this question, empirical evaluations have typically studied average inflation rates at the national level, thus disregarding the role of inflation inequalities within a country. In this paper, we relax the assumptions that heterogeneous consumers face homogeneous inflation rates, and study the correlation between price changes and self-reported satisfaction with living standards. We use newly available data from France, and adopt two approaches. First, we focus on individually perceived inflation and use the internationally harmonized Opinion Price Index as a proxy for experienced inflation. Variations in perceived inflation help predict wellbeing differences among consumers, even when controlling for relevant socio-demographic factors, personality traits and common method variance. We estimate their marginal impact to be higher than equivalent variations in nominal income. Second, we compare groups of consumers over time, and find that changes in the price of a good disproportionately affect the relative well-being of those who consume it. The study shows that the well-being cost of the inflation crisis would be underestimated if looking at aggregate figures only.
    Keywords: inflation inequality, heterogeneous inflation, subjective well-being, standard of living, perceived inflation, opinion price index
    Date: 2022–09–13
  8. By: Giuntella, Osea (Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh); McManus, Sally (National Centre for Social Research, London); Mujcic, Redzo (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick); Oswald, Andrew J (Department of Economics, University of Warwick, and CAGE Centre, IZA Institute, Bonn,); Powthavee, Nattavudh (Department of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore & IZA Institute, Bonn); Tohamy, Ahmed (Nuffield College, Oxford University)
    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. JEL Codes: I31 ; I14 ; I12
    Keywords: Mental health ; affluence ; suicide ; depression ; aging ; midlife crisis ; happiness.
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Orbeta, Aniceto Jr. C.; Tutor, Melba V.; Miraflor, James Matthew B.
    Abstract: This study reports on the 4th Philippine Graduate Tracer Survey results, covering graduates from academic years 2008–2009, 2009–2010, and 2010–2011. The results show that graduates are motivated by earnings and career advancement in their choice of baccalaureate programs, and their choices are concentrated in a few courses. There are also telltale signs of job-education mismatch, with only 49 percent of graduates who took courses requiring a professional license employed in jobs that match their degree. Meanwhile, despite being concerned about their earnings and rating themselves low in financial condition, overall life satisfaction is high among graduates. In relating college experience to postcollege life, this study finds that positive college experience (in its multiple dimensions) is generally associated with better employability, a stronger sense of citizenship, less predisposition to political action, and better life satisfaction.
    Keywords: higher education; employment; Commission on Higher Education;graduate tracer study
    Date: 2021

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