nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2023‒01‒09
four papers chosen by

  1. Wellbeing Rankings By Blanchflower, David G.; Bryson, Alex
  2. Experienced versus Decision Utility: Large-Scale Comparison for Income-Leisure Preferences By Alpaslan Akay; Olivier Bargain; H.X. Jara
  3. Stable marital histories predict happiness and health across educational groups By Miika Mäki; Anna Erika Hägglund; Anna Rotkirch; Sangita Kulathinal; Mikko Myrskylä
  4. Social Restrictions and Well-Being: Disentangling the Mechanisms By Foliano, Francesca; Tonei, Valentina; Sevilla, Almudena

  1. By: Blanchflower, David G. (Dartmouth College); Bryson, Alex (University College London)
    Abstract: Combining data on around four million respondents from the Gallup World Poll and the US Daily Tracker Poll we rank 164 countries, the 50 states of the United States and the District of Colombia on eight wellbeing measures. These are four positive affect measures - life satisfaction, enjoyment, smiling and being well-rested – and four negative affect variables – pain, sadness, anger and worry. Pooling the data for 2008-2017 we find country and state rankings differ markedly depending on whether they are ranked using positive or negative affect measures. The United States ranks lower on negative than positive affect, that is, its country wellbeing ranking looks worse using negative affect than it does when using positive affect. Combining rankings on all eight measures into a summary ranking index for 215 geographical locations we find that nine of the top ten and 16 of the top 20 ranked are US states. Only one US state ranks outside the top 100 – West Virginia (101). Iraq ranks lowest - just below South Sudan. The Nordic countries that traditionally rank high using life satisfaction do not rank as highly on other measures. Country-level rankings on the summary wellbeing index differ sharply from those reported in the World Happiness Index and are more comparable to those obtained with the Human Development Index. The state level rankings on the summary index look very different from those just based on positive affect measures and look more similar to rankings based on objective wellbeing measures.
    Keywords: wellbeing, happiness, cross-country, Gallup survey
    JEL: I31 O57
    Date: 2022–12
  2. By: Alpaslan Akay; Olivier Bargain (BSE - Bordeaux Sciences Economiques - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); H.X. Jara
    Abstract: Subjective well-being (SWB) data is increasingly used to perform welfare analysis. Interpreted as ‘experienced utility', it has recently been compared to ‘decision utility' using smallscale experiments most often based on stated preferences. We transpose this comparison to the framework of non-experimental and large-scale data commonly used for policy analysis, focusing on the income-leisure domain where redistributive policies operate. Using the British Household Panel Survey, we suggest a ‘deviation' measure, which is simply the difference between actual working hours and SWB-maximizing hours. We show that about three-quarters of individuals make decisions that are not inconsistent with maximizing their SWB. We discuss the potential channels that explain the lack of optimization when deviations are significantly large. We find proxies for a number of individual and external constraints, and show that constraints alone can explain at least half of the deviations. In our context, deviations partly reflect the inability of the revealed preference approach to account for labor market rigidities, so the actual and SWBmaximizing hours should be used in a complementary manner. The suggested approach based on our deviation metric could help identify labor market frictions.
    Keywords: Decision Utility, Experienced Utility, Labor Supply, Subjective Well-Being
    Date: 2022–12–09
  3. By: Miika Mäki; Anna Erika Hägglund; Anna Rotkirch; Sangita Kulathinal; Mikko Myrskylä (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)
    Abstract: Couple relations are a key determinant of mental and physical well-being in old age. However, we do not know how the advantages and disadvantages associated with partnership histories vary between socioeconomic groups. We create relationship history typologies for the cohorts 1945-1957 using the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, and examine, for the first time, how relationship histories relate to multiple indicators of well-being by educational attainment. Results show that stable marriages co-occur with higher well-being, compared to single and less stable partnership histories. All educational groups experience clear and similar benefits from stable unions. The adverse outcomes of union dissolution are more pronounced for those with lower education. The larger drawbacks on well-being among the less educated, especially among men, suggest that those with fewer resources suffer more from losing a partner. The findings underscore that current and past romantic relations predict well-being in old age and help policymakers in identifying vulnerable subgroups among the aging population. Keywords: partnership history, cumulative disadvantage, health, quality of life, aging
    JEL: J1 Z0
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Foliano, Francesca (UCL Institute of Education); Tonei, Valentina (University of Southampton); Sevilla, Almudena (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: Using a nationally representative 24-hour diary survey covering the first two years of the pandemic, we explore the mechanisms underlying the changes in wellbeing for men and women. We exploit the variation in the stringency of social restrictions implemented by the UK government during this period and use an event-study methodology to net out the impact of social restrictions from other pandemic effects. We find that well-being dropped by 47% (men) and 70% (women) of a standard deviation during the strictest lockdown, and this effect survives after accounting for financial conditions and changes in local infection and death rates. Our data on time allocation and individual preferences over the activities undertaken throughout the day reveal that the drop in well-being is primarily driven by a drastic reduction in time spent in leisure with non-household members or outside the home.
    Keywords: well-being, social isolation, time use, instantaneous enjoyment, COVID-19
    JEL: I10 I14 I18 I30
    Date: 2022–11

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