Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being

Contents:

Author Info

  • Dolan, Paul
  • Peasgood, Tessa
  • White, Mathew
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    There is increasing interest in the "economics of happiness", reflected by the number of articles that are appearing in mainstream economics journals that consider subjective well-being (SWB) and its determinants. This paper provides a detailed review of this literature. It focuses on papers that have been published in economics journals since 1990, as well as some key reviews in psychology and important unpublished working papers. The evidence suggests that poor health, separation, unemployment and lack of social contact are all strongly negatively associated with SWB. However, the review highlights a range of problems in drawing firm conclusions about the causes of SWB; these include some contradictory evidence, concerns over the impact on the findings of potentially unobserved variables and the lack of certainty on the direction of causality. We should be able to address some of these problems as more panel data become available.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V8H-4PPF62D-1/1/4808060335eb96a11fae0b2402eb0bc3
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 94-122

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:29:y:2008:i:1:p:94-122

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

    Related research

    Keywords:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Johannesson, Magnus, 2001. "The relationship between happiness, health, and socio-economic factors: results based on Swedish microdata," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 553-557.
    2. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    4. Easterlin, Richard A., 2006. "Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics, and demography," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 463-482, August.
    5. Carol Graham & Andrew Felton, 2006. "Inequality and happiness: Insights from Latin America," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 107-122, April.
    6. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    7. Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
    8. Gary Marks & Nicole Fleming, 1999. "Influences and Consequences of Well-being Among Australian Young People: 1980–1995," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 301-323, March.
    9. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    10. John Hudson, 2006. "Institutional Trust and Subjective Well-Being across the EU," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 43-62, 02.
    11. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur Stone, 2004. "Toward National Well-Being Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 429-434, May.
    12. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-38, October.
    13. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
    14. Lindsey Baker & Lawrence Cahalin & Kerstin Gerst & Jeffrey Burr, 2005. "Productive Activities And Subjective Well-Being Among Older Adults: The Influence Of Number Of Activities And Time Commitment," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 431-458, 09.
    15. Bukenya, James O. & Gebremedhin, Tesfa G. & Schaeffer, Peter V., 2002. "Analysis Of Rural Quality Of Life And Health: A Spatial Approach," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19878, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    16. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(3), pages 513-537.
    17. Carol Graham & Stefano Pettinato, 2001. "Happiness, Markets, and Democracy: Latin America in Comparative Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 237-268, September.
    18. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    19. Rubens Penha Cysne, 2009. "On the Positive Correlation between Income Inequality and Unemployment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 218-226, February.
    20. Bernd Hayo, 2004. "Happiness in Eastern Europe," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200412, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    21. Peggy Schyns, 2001. "Income and Satisfaction in Russia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 173-204, June.
    22. Hayo, Bernd & Seifert, Wolfgang, 2002. "Subjective economic well-being in Eastern Europe," IBES Diskussionsbeiträge 120, University of Duisburg-Essen, Faculty for Economics and Business Administration.
    23. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    24. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
    25. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well-Being," Research Papers 1751r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    26. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 38(3), pages 307-318, 09.
    27. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
    28. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    29. Kenneth Smith, 2003. "Individual Welfare in the Soviet Union," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 64(1), pages 75-105, October.
    30. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Does Happiness Adapt? A Longitudinal Study of Disability with Implications for Economists and Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 2208, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    31. Andrew Clark & Orsolya Lelkes, 2006. "Deliver us from Evil: Religion as insurance," Papers on Economics of Religion 06/03, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    32. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2004. "Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study," NBER Working Papers 10499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
    34. Rajeev Dehejia & Thomas DeLeire & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2005. "Insuring Consumption and Happiness Through Religious Organizations," NBER Working Papers 11576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    35. Rojas, Mariano, 2007. "Heterogeneity in the relationship between income and happiness: A conceptual-referent-theory explanation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-14, January.
    36. Senik, Claudia, 2004. "When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2099-2123, August.
    37. Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A., 1991. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Economics Series Working Papers 99125, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    38. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Gowdy, John M., 2007. "Environmental degradation and happiness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 509-516, January.
    39. David Dorn & Justina Fischer & Gebhard Kirchgässner & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2007. "Is It Culture or Democracy? The Impact of Democracy and Culture on Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 82(3), pages 505-526, July.
    40. Korpi, Tomas, 1997. "Is utility related to employment status? Employment, unemployment, labor market policies and subjective well-being among Swedish youth," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 125-147, June.
    41. Adam Cohen, 2002. "The Importance of Spirituality in Well-Being for Jews and Christians," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 287-310, September.
    42. Brown, Sarah & Taylor, Karl & Wheatley Price, Stephen, 2005. "Debt and distress: Evaluating the psychological cost of credit," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 642-663, October.
    43. Emily A. Greenfield & Nadine F. Marks, 2004. "Formal Volunteering as a Protective Factor for Older Adults' Psychological Well-Being," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 59(5), pages S258-S264.
    44. Florian Pichler, 2006. "Subjective Quality of Life of Young Europeans. Feeling Happy but who Knows why?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 419-444, 02.
    45. Christopher Peterson & Nansook Park & Martin Seligman, 2005. "Orientations to happiness and life satisfaction: the full life versus the empty life," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 25-41, 03.
    46. O'Connell, Michael, 2004. "Fairly satisfied: Economic equality, wealth and satisfaction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 297-305, June.
    47. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    48. Theodossiou, I., 1998. "The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological well-being: A logistic regression approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 85-104, January.
    49. Max Haller & Markus Hadler, 2006. "How Social Relations and Structures can Produce Happiness and Unhappiness: An International Comparative Analysis," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 75(2), pages 169-216, 01.
    50. Welsch, Heinz, 2006. "Environment and happiness: Valuation of air pollution using life satisfaction data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 801-813, July.
    51. Katrin Rehdanz & David J. Maddison, 2003. "Climate and Happiness," Working Papers FNU-20, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2003.
    52. Eirini Flouri, 2004. "Subjective Well-Being in Midlife: The Role of Involvement of and Closeness to Parents in Childhood," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 335-358, December.
    53. Rainer Winkelmann, 2005. "Subjective well-being and the family: Results from an ordered probit model with multiple random effects," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 749-761, October.
    54. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
    55. Schwarze, Johannes & Härpfer, Marco, 2003. "Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? A Revised Version," IZA Discussion Papers 974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    56. Hirst, Michael, 2005. "Carer distress: A prospective, population-based study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 697-708, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Does money buy happiness? It depends on the context
      by Blog Admin in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2013-07-03 07:00:41
    2. Does money buy happiness? It depends on the context
      by Blog Admin in EUROPP European Politics and Policy on 2013-07-06 09:00:40
    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:29:y:2008:i:1:p:94-122. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.