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The Value of Reunification in Germany: An Analysis of Changes in Life Satisfaction

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Author Info

  • Shields, Michael

    (University of Melbourne)

  • Paul Frijters
  • John P Haisken-DeNew

Abstract

Recent years have seen a considerable increase in the number of economists researching the role of income, employment status and other demographic characteristics in determining individual life satisfaction or happiness. In this paper we investigate how life satisfaction is affected by a large exogenous shock, namely, reunification for East Germans. In particular, we identify the effects of the substantial increase in real household income and increased unemployment. We implement a new fixed-effect estimator for ordinal life satisfaction in the German Socio-Economic Panel and develop a decomposition approach that accounts for new entrants and panel attrition. We find that average life satisfaction in East Germany increased by around 20% in the years following reunification, leading to a clear convergence with West Germany. Importantly, increased real household incomes in East Germany accounted for around 35-40% of this increase.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Royal Economic Society in its series Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 with number 186.

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Date of creation: 04 Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ecj:ac2003:186

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Keywords: life satisfaction; German reunification; random and fixed-effects panel models; causal decomposition;

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References

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  1. Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Peter Sanfey, 1999. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Studies in Economics 9903, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  2. 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.
  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1999. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," NBER Working Papers 7332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. McBride, Michael, 2001. "Relative-income effects on subjective well-being in the cross-section," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 251-278, July.
  5. 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.
  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. Jennifer Hunt, 2000. "Why Do People Still Live in East Germany?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 201, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  8. 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.
  9. Shields, Michael A & Wailoo, Allan, 2002. "Exploring the Determinants of Unhappiness for Ethnic Minority Men in Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(4), pages 445-66, September.
  10. Bernard M.S. van Praag & Paul Frijters, 1999. "The measurement of welfare and well-being; the Leyden approach," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 071a, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  11. 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.
  12. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-38, October.
  13. 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.
  14. Frijters, Paul, 2000. "Do individuals try to maximize general satisfaction?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 281-304, June.
  15. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  16. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  17. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Identifying welfare effects from subjective questions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2301, The World Bank.
  18. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  19. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
  20. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "Income and Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-019/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "Income and Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-019/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. 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.
  4. William H. Greene & David A. Hensher, 2008. "Modeling Ordered Choices: A Primer and Recent Developments," Working Papers 08-26, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Luis Cabral & Ben Polak, 2007. "Dominant Firms, Imitation, and Incentives to Innovate," Working Papers 07-6, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  6. Demoussis, Michael & Giannakopoulos, Nicholas, 2008. "Analysis of domain satisfactions: Evidence from a panel of Greek women," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1347-1362, August.
  7. Mike Shields & Mark Wooden, 2003. "Investigating the Role of Neighbourhood Characteristics in Determining Life Satisfaction," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2003n24, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  8. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael Shields, 2003. "Estimating The Causal Effect of Income on Health: Evidence from Post Reunification East Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 465, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  9. Mark Wooden & Bruce Headey, 2004. "The Effects of Wealth and Income on Subjective Well-Being and Ill-Being," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n03, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  10. Díaz Serrano, Luis, 2008. "Individual Aspirations and Satisfaction:Quantifying the Importance of Homeownership," Working Papers 2072/13268, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
  11. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-42 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Diaz-Serrano, Luis, 2006. "Housing Satisfaction, Homeownership and Housing Mobility: A Panel Data Analysis for Twelve EU Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 2318, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Kalyuzhnova, Yelena & Kambhampati, Uma, 2008. "The determinants of individual happiness in Kazakhstan," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 285-299, September.

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