nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2022‒05‒30
six papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la República

  1. Are happier people more compliant? Global evidence from three large-scale surveys during Covid-19 lockdowns By Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Daisy Fancourt; Christian Krekel; Sarah Swanke
  2. Are Africans happy? 'Return to laughter' in times of war, famine and misery By Kohnert, Dirk
  3. Jobs and wages By Alan Manning
  4. Cognitive behavior therapy reduces crime and violence over 10 years: Experimental evidence By Christopher Blattman; Sebastian Chaskel; Julian C. Jamison; Margaret Sheridan
  5. Wellbeing By Richard Layard
  6. Incomplete Catching Up: Income among Manchurian, Yi and Han People in Rural China from 2002 to 2018 By Gustafsson, Björn Anders; Zhang, Yudan

  1. By: Jan-Emmanuel De Neve; Daisy Fancourt; Christian Krekel; Sarah Swanke
    Abstract: Around the world, governments have been asking their citizens to practice physical distancing and stay at home to contain the spread of Covid-19. Are happier people more willing to comply with these measures? Using three independent surveys covering over 119,000 adult respondents across 35 countries, including longitudinal data from the UK, we test competing psychological theories, and find that past and present happiness predicts compliance during lockdown. The relationship is stronger for those with higher levels of happiness. A negative mood, or loss in happiness, predicts lower compliance. We explore risk-avoidance and pro-social motivations for compliance, and find that these are not uniform but dependent on personal characteristics and context: people who are older or have certain medical preconditions seem to be predominantly motivated by risk-avoidance, whereas motivations of people who are less at risk of Covid-19 seem more mixed. Our findings have implications for policy design, targeting, and communication.
    Keywords: COVID-19, happiness, lockdown compliance, mood maintenance, pro-sociality, risk avoidance
    JEL: D91 I12 I31
    Date: 2020–09–28
  2. By: Kohnert, Dirk
    Abstract: Happiness is a universal state of mind. However, its meaning takes on culture-specific forms, ranging from emotional states of mind to life satisfaction. The definition of 'happiness' is strongly influenced by the respective philosophical background and material living conditions and is shaped by linguistic differences. Even within countries, location and social structure are important in the conceptualization and measurement of wellbeing. Exceptions prove the rule. In Laura Bohannan’s classic anthropological study of the Tiv in the Nigerian Middle Belt in the 1950s, the ‘return to laughter’ signified the laughter of despair, e.g. when people laughed at human misery given omnipresent witchcraft. Another exemption of the rule is related to COVID-19 lockdowns that were associated with a drop in satisfaction, regardless of country-specific characteristics or the type and duration of the lockdown. In Sub-Saharan Africa both the level of happiness and the level of income have shown increasing tendencies in recent decades. However, trends in inequality between indicators of income and happiness can diverge significantly. In general, happiness does not automatically increase with increasing income but lags behind. As shown by the economy of happiness, this paradox does not appear to occur in countries like South Africa, the most unequal country in the world. The country registered growing equality of happiness despite rising income inequality. Obviously, the absolute impact of income and happiness inequality at the country level is more important than the relative impact. Hence, happiness inequality, in general, can be a useful supplementary measure of inequality, particularly in Africa, which is considered a 'black spot' when it comes to happiness research.
    Keywords: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, happiness, philosophy of happiness, happiness economics, World Happiness Report, Easterlin paradox, religion, social inequality, income inequality, social structure, African poverty, famine, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana
    JEL: D01 D11 D31 D64 D87 E26 F54 I14 I24 I32 J17 N17 N37 O15 O17 O55 Z13
    Date: 2022–05–03
  3. By: Alan Manning
    Abstract: Most working-age adults depend on earnings from jobs as their main source of income. Understanding the labour market has always been a central part of research at CEP and its predecessor the Centre for Labour Economics.
    Keywords: employment, inequality, education, jobs, unemployment, wages, AI, technology, public policy, skills, monopsony, unions, minimum wage, gig economy
    Date: 2022–03–29
  4. By: Christopher Blattman (Department of Political Science, University of Chicago); Sebastian Chaskel (Instiglio); Julian C. Jamison (Department of Economics, University of Exeter); Margaret Sheridan (Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina)
    Abstract: In most societies, a small number of people commit most of the serious crimes and violence. Short-term studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce such antisocial behaviors. There are some signs that these behavior changes may be temporary, however, especially from therapy on its own. This is unsettled, however, for there has been little randomized and long-term research on the question. We follow 999 high-risk men in Liberia 10 years after randomization into one of four arms: 8 weeks of a low-cost therapy; a $200 cash grant; both therapy and cash; or a control group. Together, the two interventions cost just $530 to deliver. We find that, a decade later, both therapy alone and therapy with economic assistance produce dramatic reductions in antisocial behaviors. Reported drug-selling and participation in thefts and robberies, for example, fall by about half. These impacts are greatest among the very highest-risk men. The effects of therapy alone, however, are somewhat smaller and more fragile. The effects of therapy plus economic assistance are more sustained and precise. Since the cash did not increase earnings for more than a few months after the grants, we hypothesize that the grant, and those few months of legitimate business activity, reinforced the learning-by-doing and habit formation embodied in CBT. Overall, the results suggest that highly-targeted CBT plus economic assistance could be an inexpensive and effective way to prevent violence, especially when policymakers are searching for alternatives to aggressive policing and incarceration.
    Keywords: cognitive behavior therapy, cash transfers, crime, violence, mental health, Africa, field experiments
    JEL: K42 O15 O17 D83
    Date: 2022–05–11
  5. By: Richard Layard
    Abstract: As societies become richer, they do not become happier. This paradox has led to a growing interest in the science of wellbeing, and how policymakers can evaluate policies in terms of what will improve wellbeing. Economists investigate what is important for wellbeing and the influence of wellbeing on working life, education and health.
    Keywords: Climate Change, Education, Employment, Health, Inequality, Unemployment, Wellbeing, Wages, Happiness, Public Policy
    Date: 2022–03–14
  6. By: Gustafsson, Björn Anders (University of Gothenburg); Zhang, Yudan (Beijing Normal University)
    Abstract: Household income per capita among the rural Yi, Manchurian ethnic minority groups and the Han majority is studied using data from the China Household Income Project 2002, 2013 and 2018. The disparity in total per capita income between the Yi and Han populations narrowed, while the average income among the Manchurian population remained relatively similar to that among the Han population. Decomposing total income into sources shows that the rapid increase in agricultural income among the Yi was a main reason why the disparity in income compared to the two other ethnic groups narrowed. Nevertheless, it is true that the reliance on agricultural income among the Yi became less extreme as wage employment and migration increased. The Manchurian group and the Han group also experienced rapid increases in wages and self-employment income. The aggregated value of transfers from the public sector was similar for all three ethnic groups.
    Keywords: Manchurian, income, Han, ethnic minorities, China, Yi
    JEL: H31 J15 P36
    Date: 2022–04

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