nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2023‒03‒13
five papers chosen by
Viviana Di Giovinazzo
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

  1. Witchcraft Beliefs and Subjective Well-Being By Boris Gershman
  2. Gender, Loneliness and Happiness during COVID-19 By Anthony Lepinteur; Andrew E. Clark; Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell; Alan Piper; Carsten Schröder; Conchita D'Ambrosio
  3. Measuring well-being and lives worth living By Marc Fleurbaey; Grégory Ponthière
  4. The Quality of Society and Happiness: Fairness, Trust, and Community in China By John Knight; Ramani Gunatilaka
  5. Re-partnering and single mothers' mental health and life satisfaction trajectories By Philipp Dierker; Mine Kühn; Mikko Myrskylä

  1. By: Boris Gershman
    Abstract: This study examines the relationship between contemporary witchcraft beliefs and subjective well-being at the individual level. Using survey data from two waves of the Gallup World Poll in Sub-Saharan Africa, we show that witchcraft believers report lower levels of life satisfaction and are more likely to experience stress, worry, and sadness rather than happiness and enjoyment. Consistent with these patterns, a global dataset based on the Pew Research Center surveys reveals that witchcraft believers are less satisfied with how “things are going†in their countries. Both data sources further reveal a strong association between belief in witchcraft and an external locus of control expressed in fatalism and a perceived lack of freedom in making life choices. These findings are in line with the ethnographic evidence on the stress-inducing impact of witchcraft-related fears and contrast sharply with the widely explored role of religion and related supernatural beliefs in coping with anxiety.
    Keywords: Happiness, Life satisfaction, Religion, Religiosity, Subjective well-being, Supernatural beliefs, Witchcraft
    JEL: I31 Z10 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Anthony Lepinteur; Andrew E. Clark; Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell; Alan Piper; Carsten Schröder; Conchita D'Ambrosio
    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
    JEL: I10 I14 I18 I30
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Marc Fleurbaey (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Grégory Ponthière (UCL - Université Catholique de Louvain = Catholic University of Louvain)
    Abstract: We study the measurement of well-being when individuals have heterogeneous preferences, including different conceptions of a life worth living. When individuals differ in the conception of a life worth living, the equivalent income can regard an individual whose life is not worth living as being better off than an individual whose life is worth living. In order to avoid this paradoxical result, we reexamine the ethical foundations of well-being measures in such a way as to take into account heterogeneity in the conception of a life worth living. We derive, from simple axioms, an alternative measure of well-being, which is an equivalent income net of the income threshold making lifetime neutral. That new well-being index always ranks an individual whose life is not worth living as worse-off than an individual with a life worth living.
    Keywords: Measurement, Equivalent income, Lifetime, Value of life, Well-being
    Date: 2022–07–14
  4. By: John Knight; Ramani Gunatilaka
    Abstract: Adam Smith argued that ‘moral sentiments’ – the norms, customs and conventions that are developed in society - provide a benefit to society, improving both economic efficiency and well-being. We take our cue from this insight. Three important moral sentiments are a perception of fairness, a willingness to trust people, and a sense of community We analyse representative national socioeconomic surveys of the China Household Income Project (CHIP), conducted in 2002 and 2013. It contains information that is used to create a happiness score, a fairness score, a trust score, and a community score for each respondent. Three main hypotheses are tested: that higher reported fairness, higher reported trust, and greater sense of community each raises happiness. In the first case there is strong evidence of a positive association in both rural and urban China. Moreover, we find that a higher sense of fairness ameliorates the adverse effect of reference group income on happiness, especially for the poor. Higher reported trust scores are also strongly associated with greater happiness in both rural and urban China. Average trust scores in the locality are positively associated with happiness, suggesting that a high level of trustworthiness in the community is also valued. Three measures of village sense of community are each associated with greater happiness. Attempts are made to ascertain whether the associations are causal; use of internal instruments provides some support. The possible determinants of reported fairness, trust, and community are investigated, some of which have policy implications. The evidence of the paper is generally consistent with the broader argument that an informal social contract constrains antisocial behaviour and improves wellbeing in ways little studied by economists.
    Date: 2023–02–17
  5. By: Philipp Dierker (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Mine Kühn (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Mikko Myrskylä (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)
    Abstract: Single mothers are a particularly disadvantaged group in terms of their mental health and life satisfaction. While it is plausible that re-partnering could compensate for these disadvantages by providing social, emotional, and financial resources, the evidence is inconclusive. Using annual panel data from Germany (1984-2020) and the United Kingdom (1991-2020), this study examines the life satisfaction and mental health trajectories around re-partnering transitions among single mothers. The guiding questions are whether re-partnering has positive (resource model) or negative (crisis model) effects on the outcomes, and whether the effects depend on the national context. Fixed-effects regressions reveal effects among 1, 675 single mothers. Results show that life satisfaction is positively affected by re-partnering in both Germany and the UK, mainly driven by income-related factors. The effects on mental health differ more, with an increasing trajectory in Germany and a declining trajectory after the re-partnering transition in the UK. Overall, the findings indicate that re-partnering is beneficial, especially for the life satisfaction of single mothers, and highlight the importance of financial resources and family policies.
    JEL: J1 Z0
    Date: 2023

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