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Deconstructing the hedonic treadmill: Is happiness autoregressive?

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  • Bottan, Nicolas Luis
  • Perez Truglia, Ricardo

Abstract

Affective habituation is well-documented in social sciences: people seem to adapt to many life events, ranging from lottery windfalls to terminal illnesses. A group of studies have tried to measure habituation by seeing how lagged values of life events affect present happiness. We propose an additional adaptation channel: current happiness may depend directly on past happiness, which amounts to assessing whether happiness is autoregressive. We run dynamic happiness regressions using individual-level panel data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers, the British Household Panel Survey and the Swiss Household Panel. As in previous studies, the coefficients on lagged events (e.g., becoming unemployed, getting married) suggest strong habituation. However, all the econometric models suggest that the coefficient on lagged happiness is positive and significant. We discuss whether this may be evidence of happiness having an inertial force (besides the usual habituation channel).

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 224-236

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:3:p:224-236

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

Related research

Keywords: Hedonic adaptation Happiness Dynamic panel;

References

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  1. Clark, Andrew E. & Diener, Ed & Georgellis, Yannis & Lucas, Richard E., 2008. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0803, CEPREMAP.
  2. 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).
  3. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
  4. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  5. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  6. Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 302-337.
  7. Robert Whaples, 2009. "The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members: The Results of a New Survey," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 6(3), pages 337-348, September.
  8. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  9. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
  10. Judson, Ruth A. & Owen, Ann L., 1999. "Estimating dynamic panel data models: a guide for macroeconomists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-15, October.
  11. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Empirical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate sans Happiness Adaptation," MPRA Paper 50633, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Martin Binder & Felix Ward, 2011. "The Structure of Happiness: A Vector Autoregressive Approach," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-08, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  3. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2014. "Income growth and happiness: Reassessment of the Easterlin Paradox," MPRA Paper 53360, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Empirical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate," MPRA Paper 49446, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Piper, Alan T., 2013. "Happiness, Dynamics and Adaptation," MPRA Paper 52342, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Wunder, Christoph, 2012. "Does subjective well-being dynamically adjust to circumstances?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 750-752.
  7. Alex Coad & Martin Binder, 2014. "Causal Linkages between Work and Life Satisfaction and Their Determinants in a Structural VAR Approach," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_809, Levy Economics Institute.
  8. FUSCO Alessio, 2013. "The dynamics of perceived financial difficulties," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2013-24, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  9. André Hajek, 2013. "Endogeneity in the Relation between Poverty, Wealth and Life Satisfaction," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 604, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  10. HASAN, HAMID & Khan, Hayat, 2013. "Testing the Existence of Hedonic Adaptation and Inertia to Income with implications for Islamic economics: a case of Pakistan," MPRA Paper 44927, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Chrostek, Pawel, 2013. "An empirical investigation into the determinants and persistence of different types of subjective well-being," MPRA Paper 48292, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Piper, Alan T., 2012. "Dynamic Analysis and the Economics of Happiness: Rationale, Results and Rules," MPRA Paper 43248, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2012.
  13. Perez-Truglia, Ricardo, 2012. "On the causes and consequences of hedonic adaptation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1182-1192.
  14. Chrostek, Pawel, 2013. "An empirical investigation into the determinants and persistence of happiness and life evaluation," MPRA Paper 50442, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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