nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2023‒01‒16
four papers chosen by

  1. Consumption and Life Satisfaction: The Korean Evidence By Choung, Youngjoo; Pak, Tae-Young; Chatterjee, Swarn
  2. Coping Strategies, Well-Being and Inequalities During the Covid-19 Pandemic Period By Eleftherios Giovanis; Oznur Ozdamar
  3. A Time of Great Intensity: The Pandemic Effect on Work, Care Work and Subjective Wellbeing in MENA Countries By Ghada Barsoum; Mahdi Majbouri
  4. Cash Transfers, Household Food Insecurity and the Subjective Wellbeing of Youth in Jordan By Zeina Jamaluddine; Maia Sieverding

  1. By: Choung, Youngjoo; Pak, Tae-Young; Chatterjee, Swarn
    Abstract: This study examines the association between consumption expenditure and life satisfaction among older Koreans (aged 50 or older). We estimate a series of individual fixed effects regressions that link life satisfaction to various types of household consumption using data drawn from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging. The results show that leisure consumption is positively related to life satisfaction and that this association is driven largely by uncommon and infrequent leisure activities, like travel and entertainment. Expenditures for leisure that provides more ordinary experiences, such as recreation and self-development programs, were generally uncorrelated with life satisfaction, despite being consumed by a large fraction of older Koreans. Finally, the evidence on whether material purchases or status-enhancing purchases were positively correlated with life satisfaction is mixed. On the one hand, our findings reaffirm the conventional wisdom that people feel more satisfied when spending money on experiences than on material possessions. On the other hand, we provide the novel finding that consumption directed toward extraordinary and memorable experiences that go beyond everyday life tends to generate greater future life satisfaction.
    Keywords: happiness; leisure consumption; life satisfaction; retrospective evaluation; subjective well-being
    JEL: D12 I31
    Date: 2021–09–01
  2. By: Eleftherios Giovanis (Izmir Bakircay University); Oznur Ozdamar (Izmir Bakircay University)
    Abstract: As a response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the globe have carried on strict lockdown measures affecting millions of jobs, public life, and the well-being of people. This study aims to examine the subjective well-being (SWB) of people, such as the perception of the economic situation and mental well-being, who made adjustments to cope with the earning losses. We estimate the well-being costs, which is the money required to compensate people because of the reduction in earnings or employment loss and the coping strategy followed, to bring their well-being at the levels of those who have not adopted any coping strategy. We examine two outcomes; the perception of the economic situation and a mental well-being index. We employ data from the ERF COVID-19 MENA Monitor Surveys for Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The results show that coping strategies with the earning losses have a significant detrimental impact on well-being and are associated with significant costs. In most cases, the coping strategies of borrowing from banks or a private lender and selling assets present the highest well-being costs. Furthermore, the estimates highlight significant discrepancies across gender and types of workers, such as those employed in the informal sector and temporary contracts.
    Date: 2021–12–20
  3. By: Ghada Barsoum (The American University in Cairo); Mahdi Majbouri (Babson College)
    Abstract: In 2020, a global pandemic and its ripple effects swept through the world and disrupted every economy worldwide. We study the effect of this pandemic on employment, care work, and subjective wellbeing (SWB), particularly for women, in four countries in one of the most understudied regions, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We find that although employmentto-population ratios had an initial dip in the pandemic, they rose to pre-pandemic levels by February 2021. We, however, find that unemployment-to-population ratios for women rose during the pandemic and reached to two to three times their levels before the pandemic. We also find that about 40% of women reported a rise in their hours spent on childcare and housework during the pandemic. Finally, we find that controlling for individual characteristics and geographic-time fixed effectgs, the main factor associated with the SWB was the decline in household income. Men and women’s SWB in households that experienced a reduction in their income declined by 0.26 and 0.14 standard deviation, respectively. Increase in the time spent on housework was the second factor affecting women’s SWB. All other factors had no association with SWB. The implications of the results are discussed.
    Date: 2021–12–20
  4. By: Zeina Jamaluddine (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine); Maia Sieverding (American University of Beirut)
    Abstract: Cash transfers have become an increasingly common feature of social protection systems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including in humanitarian settings. Globally, there is strong evidence that cash transfers are effective in improving basic needs outcomes such as food insecurity. However, attention to the potential psychosocial effects of cash transfers, including improved mental health or subjective wellbeing, has been more recent and there is very little literature from the MENA region. In this paper we examine the associations between household receipt of cash transfers, food insecurity and the subjective wellbeing of youth in Jordan. Youth in Jordan, as elsewhere in the region, face numerous health and socioeconomic challenges during the transition to adulthood. The potential of cash transfers to improve psychosocial wellbeing during this period of life could therefore have long-term positive consequences. Our analysis relies on the 2020-21 Survey of Young People in Jordan, which is nationally representative of Jordanian and Syrian youth aged 16-30. We use ordinary least squares regression models to examine the predictors of household food insecurity and youth subjective wellbeing. Through step-wise model building we examine the potential role of food insecurity as a mediator in the relationship between receipt of cash transfers and youth subjective wellbeing. Twenty percent of Jordanian-headed households and 90% of Syrian-headed households with youth received at least one cash transfer. Nevertheless, household-level food insecurity was high, at 45% of Jordanian and 74% of Syrian households. There was also a substantial burden of poor subjective wellbeing among Jordanian (39%) and Syrian (52%) youth. Household receipt of social assistance was not predictive of subjective wellbeing among Jordanian youth. Only receipt of all three major United Nations agency cash transfers for refugees was a significant predictor of better subjective wellbeing among Syrian youth. While household food insecurity was a significant predictor of worse subjective wellbeing among youth of both nationalities, we do not find strong support for the hypothesis that food security is an important mediator of the association between cash transfers and subjective wellbeing for this population.
    Date: 2022–08–20

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.