Lara B. Aknin, Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, Elizabeth W. Dunn, John F. Helliwell, Justine Burns, Robert Biswas-Diener, Imelda Kemeza, Paul Nyende, Claire E. Ashton-James, and Michael I. Norton. Prosocial spending and well-being: Cross-cultural evidence for a psychological universal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(4):635--652, 2013. [ DOI | http ]
This research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: Human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). In Study 1, survey data from 136 countries were examined and showed that prosocial spending is associated with greater happiness around the world, in poor and rich countries alike. To test for causality, in Studies 2a and 2b, we used experimental methodology, demonstrating that recalling a past instance of prosocial spending has a causal impact on happiness across countries that differ greatly in terms of wealth (Canada, Uganda, and India). Finally, in Study 3, participants in Canada and South Africa randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive affect than participants assigned to buy the same items for themselves, even when this prosocial spending did not provide an opportunity to build or strengthen social ties. Our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Christopher Barrington-Leigh and Fatemeh Behzadnejad. Evaluating the Short-Term Cost of Low-Level Local Air Pollution: A Life Satisfaction Approach. Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, 19(2):269--298, April 2017.
To estimate the impact of air pollution on well-being, we combine a set of repeated cross-sectional surveys of individuals with high-resolution pollution and weather data. The respondents' level of life satisfaction is modeled as a function of their socioeconomic characteristics and income as well as the weather and air pollution on the day of the survey interview. To overcome endogeneity problems, we include a set of high-resolution geographic fixed effects. Our analysis suggests that even after controlling for seasonal and local fixed effects, higher air pollution significantly reduces life satisfaction. The adverse effect of transient increases in air pollution is greater on individuals with poor health status. Estimating the average compensating differential between income and air pollution shows that the value of improving air quality by one-half standard deviation throughout the year is about 4.4% of the average annual income of Canadians.
Christopher Barrington-Leigh and Fatemeh Behzadnejad. The Impact of Daily Weather Conditions on Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Cross-Sectional and Panel Data. Journal of Economic Psychology, 59:145--163, April 2017.
Life satisfaction has been widely used in recent years for evaluating the effect of environmental factors on individuals' well-being. In this study, using two major health surveys in Canada, we show that after controlling for individuals' socioeconomic characteristics as well as local and seasonal climate, temporal weather variations have an impact on satisfaction with life. This effect is identified in a number of alternative specifications. Women and individuals with poor health condition are more affected by weather conditions. Although being statistically significant, the effect of weather on life satisfaction is small compared with major socioeconomic determinants of well-being. We cannot confirm the results of past studies which find an effect of long term climate variables on life satisfaction.
Matthew Brzozowski and Brenda Spotton Visano. Havin' Money's Not Everything, Not Havin' It Is: The Importance of Financial Satisfaction for Life Satisfaction in Financially Stressed Households. Journal of Happiness Studies, 21(2):573--591, 2020.
Abstract This paper explores the importance of financial satisfaction for overall life satisfaction in households whose principal source of subjective stress is financial. Using data drawn from 2 waves (2005, 2010) of the nationally representative General Social Survey in Canada, we find that for financially stressed Canadian households, their stress-affected sense of financial well-being overwhelmingly conditions their overall sense of life satisfaction. We consider as well the potential for financial stress to moderate the relationship between income and life satisfaction but find only a modest effect and then only for high income households in 2005.
Peter Burton and Shelley Phipps. The Well-Being of Immigrant Children and Parents in Canada. Working Paper, Dalhousie University, Department of Economics, August 2010.
In this paper, we use microdata from the Canada Community Health Survey (CCHS) to document the fact that both immigrant children and immigrant parents have lower self-reported life satisfaction and are less likely to feel a strong sense of ,,belonging to their local communities than their Canadian-born peers. A novel aspect of our work is that we provide direct comparisons of both levels and correlates of well-being for parents and children, since our data asks children (aged 12 to 17) and adults the same survey questions. We find, first, that immigrant status has a larger, negative, association with well-being for parents than for children. And, although income is an important correlate of life satisfaction for both parents and children, the association is larger for parents. A troubling finding is that there is no apparent improvement in life satisfaction for immigrant parents or children who have lived longer in Canada. Given European experiences with alienation among immigrant youth, we also examine ,,belonging to the community as another aspect of well-being; lower levels of belonging are reported by immigrant youth, especially girls, than by their Canadian peers. Indeed, for girls, immigrant status is one of the largest (negative) correlates of belonging identified. The same is true for parents, but the size of the association is smaller and appears to decline over time.
Andrew E. Clark and SeEun Jung. Does Compulsory Education Really Increase Life Satisfaction? Technical Report 2017-6, Inha University, Institute of Business and Economic Research, July 2017. [ .html ]
This paper examines the impact of the 1972 British education reform on life satisfaction using 1996-2008 British Household Panel Survey data. The education reform increased compulsory education by one year for those who were born after the 1st of September 1957, yielding an exogenous change in education for the treated group. Contrary to other work, we find no evidence that a one-year rise in compulsory education increased life satisfaction, even though it is often estimated to increase income. Many of our estimates suggest a negative relationship: the positive life-satisfaction effect found in research using earlier data does not then seem to have endured.
J-E De Neve and G Ward. Happiness at work. In J.F. Helliwell, R. Layard, and J. Sachs, editors, World Happiness Report. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Net-work, 2017. [ .pdf ]
Andy Dickerson, Arne Risa Hole, and Luke A. Munford. The relationship between well-being and commuting revisited: Does the choice of methodology matter? Regional Science and Urban Economics, 49:321--329, November 2014. [ DOI | http ]
This paper provides an assessment of a range of alternative estimators for fixed-effects ordered models in the context of estimating the relationship between subjective well-being and commuting behaviour. In contrast to previous papers in the literature we find no evidence that longer commutes are associated with lower levels of subjective well-being, in general. From a methodological point of view our results support earlier findings that linear and ordered fixed-effects models of life satisfaction give similar results. However, we argue that ordered models are more appropriate as they are theoretically preferable, straightforward to implement and lead to easily interpretable results.
Ada Ferrer-i Carbonell and Paul Frijters. How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? The Economic Journal, 114(497):641--659, 2004. [ DOI | http ]
Psychologists and sociologists usually interpret happiness scores as cardinal and comparable across respondents, and thus run OLS regressions on happiness and changes in happiness. Economists usually assume only ordinality and have mainly used ordered latent response models, thereby not taking satisfactory account of fixed individual traits. We address this problem by developing a conditional estimator for the fixed-effect ordered logit model. We find that assuming ordinality or cardinality of happiness scores makes little difference, whilst allowing for fixed-effects does change results substantially. We call for more research into the determinants of the personality traits making up these fixed-effects.
Sarah Flèche, Andrew E. Clark, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdthavee, and George Ward. The Origins of Happiness: The Science of Well-Being Over the Life Course. Princeton University Press, August 2019. [ http ]
A new perspective on life satisfaction and well-being over the life courseWhat makes people happy? The Origins of Happiness seeks to revolutionize how we think about human priorities and to promote public policy changes that are based on what really matters to people. Drawing on a range of evidence using large-scale data from various countries, the authors consider the key factors that affect human well-being, including income, education, employment, family conflict, health, childcare, and crime. The Origins of Happiness offers a groundbreaking new vision for how we might become more healthy, happy, and whole.
Paul Frijters, John P. Haisken-DeNew, and Michael A. Shields. Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification. The American Economic Review, 94(3):730--740, 2004. [ http ]
Paul Frijters, David W. Johnston, and Michael A. Shields. Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction? Evidence from British Cohort Surveys. The Economic Journal, 124(580):F688--F719, November 2014. [ DOI | http ]
Michael Hanslmaier. Crime, fear and subjective well-being: How victimization and street crime affect fear and life satisfaction. European Journal of Criminology, 10(5):515--533, September 2013. [ DOI | http ]
The paper assesses the consequences of victimization experience and the crime rate on fear of crime and life satisfaction. It extends the classical fear of crime model by incorporating media use in the link between the crime rate and fear of crime. Based on a nationwide German survey conducted in 2010 it is shown that fear of crime and victimization experiences lower respondents? life satisfaction. The county crime rate has no significant impact. However, the local crime rate increases fear of crime. This relationship is mediated by the consumption of local newspapers. Readers of such newspapers are more affected by the crime rate, because they have more information on crime trends within their county.
John F. Helliwell and Haifang Huang. How's the Job? Well-Being and Social Capital in the Workplace. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 63(2):205--227, January 2010.
The authors first investigate how income and job characteristics affect life satisfaction, then estimate compensating differentials for non-financial job characteristics. To address potential problems with using life satisfaction data as dependent variables, they draw on three Canadian surveys (conducted in the years 2002-2003) with different samples and questions, and they use individual personality measures, various robustness checks, and cross-testing with measures of domain satisfaction. The life satisfaction results show strikingly large values for non-financial job characteristics, especially workplace trust. For example, a one-third-standard-deviation increase in trust in management is equivalent to an income increase of more than one-third. These results, if confirmed by further research in other settings, suggest either that it is very costly to build and maintain workplace trust or that there are opportunities to improve workplace environments so as to increase both life satisfaction and workplace efficiency. The life satisfaction results show strikingly large values for non-financial job characteristics, especially for workplace trust, which we treat as a primary measure of the quality of workplace social capital. For example, an increase of trust in management that covers one tenth of the survey respondents is equivalent to an income increase of more than one-third. If these results should be confirmed in further work, and other countries, they would suggest either that it is very costly to build and maintain workplace trust or that there are opportunities to improve workplace environments so as to increase both life satisfaction and workplace efficiency.
John F. Helliwell and Shun Wang. Trust and Wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 1(1), January 2011.
Margo Hilbrecht, Bryan Smale, and Steven E. Mock. Highway to health? Commute time and well-being among Canadian adults. World Leisure Journal, 56(2):151--163, April 2014. [ DOI | http ]
Feng Hou and Kristyn Frank. Over-education and Life Satisfaction among Immigrant and Non-immigrant Workers in Canada. Technical Report 2017393e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch, May 2017.
The increased migration of skilled workers globally has led to a focus in the immigration literature on the economic costs of unsuccessful labour market integration. Less attention has been given to the consequences of employment difficulties, such as those related to over-education, on aspects of immigrants' subjective well-being. Although a large proportion of immigrants experience over-education, studies examining the relationship between over-education and life satisfaction tend to concentrate on the general population. These studies find a negative relationship between over-education and life satisfaction. Since immigrant and Canadian-born (non-immigrant) workers may experience over-education differently, it is important to examine this relationship in both groups. This study examines how over-education is associated with life satisfaction among university-educated immigrant and non-immigrant workers in Canada, and accounts for differences in the degree of over-education in each group.
David W. Johnston, Michael A. Shields, and Agne Suziedelyte. Victimisation, Well-being and Compensation: Using Panel Data to Estimate the Costs of Violent Crime. The Economic Journal, 128(611):1545--1569, June 2018. [ DOI | http ]
Christian Krekel, Jens Kolbe, and Henry Wüstemann. The greener, the happier? The effect of urban land use on residential well-being. Ecological Economics, 121:117--127, January 2016. [ DOI | http ]
We investigate the effect of urban land use on residential well-being in major German cities, using panel data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and cross-section data from the European Urban Atlas. We reduce concerns about endogeneity by employing fixed-effects (within) estimators, with individual and city of residence fixed effects, while controlling for a rich set of observables. The results show that access to green urban areas, such as gardens and parks, is positively associated with, whereas access to abandoned areas, such as waste or leftover land, is negatively associated with life satisfaction. The effects are strongest for residents who are older, accounting for up to a third of the size of the effect of being unemployed on life satisfaction. We calculate the marginal willingness-to-pay of residents in order to have access to green urban and abandoned areas in their surroundings, as well as the life-satisfaction maximising amounts of them. Finally, we provide a policy case study, while discussing limitations and avenues for future research.
Christian Krekel and Alexander Zerrahn. Does the presence of wind turbines have negative externalities for people in their surroundings? Evidence from well-being data. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 82:221--238, March 2017. [ DOI | http ]
Throughout the world, governments foster the deployment of wind power to mitigate negative externalities of conventional electricity generation, notably CO2 emissions. Wind turbines, however, are not free of externalities themselves, particularly interference with landscape aesthetics. We quantify these negative externalities using the life satisfaction approach. To this end, we combine household data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) with a novel panel dataset on over 20,000 installations. Based on geographical coordinates and construction dates, we establish causality in a difference-indifferences design. Matching techniques drawing on exogenous weather data and geographical locations of residence ensure common trend behaviour. We show that the construction of wind turbines close to households exerts significant negative external effects on residential well-being, although they seem both spatially and temporally limited, being restricted to about 4000 m around households and decaying after five years at the latest. Robustness checks, including view shed analyses based on digital terrain models and placebo regressions, confirm our results.
Ehsan Latif. Crisis, unemployment and psychological wellbeing in Canada. Journal of Policy Modeling, 32(4):520--530, July 2010. [ DOI | http ]
Using longitudinal Canadian data, this paper explores the impact of unemployment on psychological wellbeing. To control for unobserved individual specific heterogeneity, this paper adopted sophisticated econometric techniques. The study suggests that unemployment has significant negative effect on psychological wellbeing and the paper finds that non-pecuniary costs of unemployment is much larger than the pecuniary costs associated with the loss of income while unemployed. The paper further finds that for individuals aged 1554, being out of labor force also has adverse impact on psychological wellbeing. The study concludes that unemployment is more likely involuntary and thus in the face of unemployment, the policy makers need to use all possible ways to create jobs.
Ehsan Latif. The impact of retirement on psychological well-being in Canada. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 40(4):373--380, August 2011. [ DOI | http ]
The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of retirement on psychological wellbeing. The empirical part of this study uses seven longitudinal waves of the Canadian National Population Health Survey, spanning 1994 through 2006. To account for biases due to unobserved individual specific heterogeneity, this study deploys panel data methodologies such as fixed effect method, fixed effect logistic method, and instrumental variable fixed effect method. Using age specific retirement incentives provided by Canada's Income Security System as instruments for retirement behavior, the study finds that retirement has significant positive impact on subsequent psychological well-being. The findings of the study would substantiate the continuity theory notion that retirement may actually improve psychological well-being.
Ehsan Latif. Happiness and Comparison Income: Evidence from Canada. Social Indicators Research, 128(1):161--177, August 2016.
Using data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey (1994-2009), this study examines the relationship between comparison income and individual happiness. This study utilizes two definitions of comparison income: Average income of the reference group and the difference between one's own household income and the average income of the reference group. The estimations using the Ordered Probit Method suggest that an increase in the average income of the reference group reduces individual happiness. On the other hand, an individual's happiness increases when his/her own household income becomes larger in comparison to the average income of the reference group. To check the robustness of these results, this study re-estimated all models using a different composition of the reference group. However, the basic results still hold, thus confirming that comparison income has a significant negative impact on an individual's happiness level.
Arik Levinson. Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality. Journal of Public Economics, 96(9-10):869--880, October 2012. [ DOI | http ]
This paper describes and implements a method for valuing a time-varying local public good: air quality. It models survey respondents' self-reported happiness as a function of their demographic characteristics, incomes, and the air pollution and weather on the date and in the place they were surveyed. People with higher incomes report higher levels of happiness, and people interviewed on days with worse local air pollution report lower levels of happiness. Combining these two concepts, I derive the average marginal rate of substitution between income and current air quality a compensating differential for short-term changes in air pollution.
Simon Luechinger. Valuing Air Quality Using the Life Satisfaction Approach. The Economic Journal, 119(536):482--515, March 2009. [ DOI | http ]
Redzo Mujcic and Andrew J.Oswald. Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables. American Journal of Public Health, 106(8):1504--1510, August 2016. [ DOI | http ]
Objectives. To explore whether improvements in psychological well-being occur after happiness. The study is intended as a compleincreases in fruit and vegetable consumption. Methods. We examined longitudinal food diaries of 12 385 randomly sampled Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013 in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey. We adjusted effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people's changing incomes and personal circumstances. Results. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. They were up to 0.24 life-satisfaction points (for an increase of 8 portions a day), which is equal in size to the psychological gain of moving from unemployment to employment. Improvements occurred within ment to the aforementioned literature on socioeconomic influences. In its style, the study fits within an emerging panel-data literature on human well-being. The analysis was first done by following individuals between 2007 and 2009. Just as the project was completed, however, new data were released, which made it possible to check the calculations also for the period 2009 to 2013 (these replication findings are reported in Tables A, B, and C, 24 months. available as supplements to the online version Conclusions. People's motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that of this article at http://www.ajph.org). physical health benefits accrue decades later, but well-being improvements from in- There are precursors to this article. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate. Policy implications. Citizens could be shown evidence that “happiness” gains from healthy eating can occur quickly and many years before enhanced physical health. (Am J Public Health. 2016;106:15041510. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303260)
Y. Shi, C. Joyce, R. Wall, H. Orpana, and C. Bancej. A life satisfaction approach to valuing the impact of health behaviours on subjective well-being. BMC public health, 19(1):1547, 2019. [ DOI | http ]
BACKGROUND: Increasingly, decision-makers are interested in understanding the returns on investments in programs and policies that promote health and prevent chronic diseases. While the costs of these programs are more easily quantified, many of the outcomes they aspire to achieve are intangible and lack obvious market values. The subjective well-being (SWB) method was developed to value a wide range of non-market goods, including health outcomes directly in monetary terms. This paper presents an application of the SWB approach to estimate the monetary value of health-promoting behaviours as the intermediate outcomes of health promotion and chronic disease prevention programs and policies. METHODS: Life satisfaction (LS) was used as a proxy of individuals' SWB. Based on the combined Canadian Community Health Survey 2009-10 data, we modeled LS as a function of income and healthy behaviours, controlling for the socio-demographic factors associated with LS at the individual level using ordinary least squares regression. Equivalent effects of income and healthy behaviours on LS derived from the models allowed us to estimate the trade-off between income and healthy behaviours. RESULTS: We found that income and healthy behaviours were positively associated with LS. The values of increased physical activity, an additional daily serving of fruits/vegetables, and not smoking are respectively $631, $115 and $563 per week. These represent the amounts of additional weekly income required to maintain an individual at their level of LS in the absence of each of these behaviours. CONCLUSIONS: The SWB method holds promise as a method to monetize the value of a range of non-market goods, including healthy behaviours for which market values do not exist. The SWB method can be applied efficiently and cost-effectively using readily available survey data.
Alois Stutzer and Bruno S. Frey. Stress that Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox*. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 110(2):339--366, 2008. [ DOI | http ]
People spend a lot of time commuting and often find it a burden. According to standard economics, the burden of commuting is chosen when compensated either on the labor or on the housing market so that individuals' utility is equalized. However, in a direct test of this strong notion of equilibrium with panel data, we find that people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being. This result is robust with regard to a number of alternative explanations. We mention several possibilities of an extended model of human behavior able to explain this “commuting paradox”.
Mariska van der Horst and Hilde Coffé. How Friendship Network Characteristics Influence Subjective Well-Being. Social Indicators Research, 107(3):509--529, July 2012. [ DOI | http ]
This article explores How Friendship Network Characteristics Influence Subjective Well-Being (SWB). Using data from the 2003 General Social Survey of Canada, three components of the friendship network are differentiated: number of friends, frequency of contact, and heterogeneity of friends. We argue that these characteristics shape SWB through the benefits they bring. Benefits considered are more social trust, less stress, better health, and more social support. Results confirm that higher frequency of contacts and higher number of friends, as well as lower heterogeneity of the friendship network are related to more social trust, less stress, and a better health. Frequency of contact and number of friends, as well as more heterogeneity of the friendship network increase the chance of receiving help from friends. With the exception of receiving help from friends, these benefits are in turn related to higher levels of SWB. Only the frequency of meeting friends face-to-face has a remaining positive direct influence on SWB. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
Zoua M. Vang, Feng Hou, and Katharine Elder. Perceived Religious Discrimination, Religiosity, and Life Satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(6):1913--1932, August 2019. [ DOI | http ]
Using a large national representative survey, this study examines the effect of perceived religious discrimination, religiosity, and their interaction on life satisfaction. The results show that the negative effect of religious discrimination on life satisfaction is large and equivalent to the effects of some major life events such as widowhood and unemployment. Higher religiosity is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and tends to mitigate the negative effect of experiencing religious discrimination. Furthermore, although the prevalence of perceived religious discrimination varies across major religious faiths, its negative effect on life satisfaction is generally consistent. The implications of the findings for future research and theoretical development on religious discrimination and its associations with subjective well-being are discussed.
Mathew P. White, Ian Alcock, Benedict W. Wheeler, and Michael H. Depledge. Would You Be Happier Living in a Greener Urban Area? A Fixed-Effects Analysis of Panel Data. Psychological Science, 24(6):920--928, June 2013. [ DOI | http ]
Urbanization is a potential threat to mental health and well-being. Cross-sectional evidence suggests that living closer to urban green spaces, such as parks, is associated with lower mental distress. However, earlier research was unable to control for time-invariant heterogeneity (e.g., personality) and focused on indicators of poor psychological health. The current research advances the field by using panel data from over 10,000 individuals to explore the relation between urban green space and well-being (indexed by ratings of life satisfaction) and between urban green space and mental distress (indexed by General Health Questionnaire scores) for the same people over time. Controlling for individual and regional covariates, we found that, on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.
Julia Zelikova. Successful aging: A cross-national study of subjective well-being later in life. HSE Working Paper WP BRP 21/SOC/2013, National Research University Higher School of Economics, 2013. [ http ]
This paper aims to identify and analyze the life course and contextual factors that influence the subjective well-being (SWB) of individuals over 60 years of age. Our research is based on the results of the 5th wave of the World Value Survey. We have investigated the level of SWB for older people at both the individual and country level. The results of our research demonstrate that the strongest predictors of SWB later in life are satisfaction with one's financial state, health, and a sense of control, meaning the belief that individuals are in control of their lives. Besides this, the important factors of SWB for older people are the ability to establish and maintain friendly relations with other people, such as family members and friends, and to invest their own resources in positive emotions and important relationships for themselves. Older people from ex-communist countries have the lowest level of SWB. Older people from English-speaking countries, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, have, by contrast, the highest level of SWB. These results suggest that the degree of modernization influences SWB levels very strongly. For older people, the country in which they live, the level of democracy, GDP per capita, freedom, and tolerance are very important. In contemporary society, the later period of life is a time for self-realization, new activities, new leisure, and new emotions. If society understands the needs of older people and provides opportunities for their realization, society can overcome the challenges caused by population aging. Only then can we discuss the concept of `successful aging'
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