Should Central Banks Target Happiness? Evidence from Latin America
AbstractIt has become common wisdom amongst monetary policy professionals that central banks in Latin America should adopt inflation targeting. Pure inflation targeting implicitly assumes a social loss welfare function dependent on only inflation. In this paper using subjective well-being survey data for Latin America we present evidence that both inflation and unemployment reduce wellbeing; where the cost of inflation in terms of unemployment, hence the relative size of the weights in a social well-being function, is about one to eight, almost double of that found for OECD countries. The weighted misery index differs in level (is higher) and change (an increase rather than a fall) from the commonly used unitary weighted index and from that of the pure inflation targeters for the period 1997 to 2006. In addition, the trade-off—and therefore the misery index—differs across subgroups, for example the young (aged 18-24 years) and left-leaning citizens are more concerned with unemployment than inflation. Thus advocates and practioners of inflation only targeting are, and increasingly so, divorced from the wellbeing of LAC citizens who are increasingly left leaning and with the youth, who given the population pyramid, are also increasing as a proportion of the population. The evidence presented in this paper, combined with the low frequency of happiness data, may not be sufficiently convincing for central banks to adopt happiness-targeting rule. However, happiness data would be useful to inform policy makers regarding the optimal disinflation policy or at least allow consciousness of the potential discontent of different sub-groups of the population of different disinflation strategies.
Download InfoIf 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.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE) in its series OVE Working Papers with number 0209.
Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Happiness; Life Satisfaction; Inflation; Unemployment; and Misery Index;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - General Welfare
- D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- O54 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
- C30 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-06-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBA-2009-06-17 (Central Banking)
- NEP-HAP-2009-06-17 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-MON-2009-06-17 (Monetary Economics)
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.:
- Moura, Marcelo L. & de Carvalho, Alexandre, 2010.
"What can Taylor rules say about monetary policy in Latin America?,"
Journal of Macroeconomics,
Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 392-404, March.
- Carvalho, Alexandre & Moura, Marcelo L., 2008. "What Can Taylor Rules Say About Monetary Policy in Latin America?," Insper Working Papers wpe_126, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
- Woodford Michael, 2002.
"Inflation Stabilization and Welfare,"
The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics,
De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-53, February.
- Justin Wolfers, 2003.
"Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Wellbeing,"
NBER Working Papers
9619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well-Being," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
- Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well-Being," Research Papers 1751r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
- Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
- Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
- Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008.
"Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
2394, CESifo Group Munich.
- Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
- Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 3654, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," NBER Working Papers 14282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 6944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- 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.
- DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
- David G. Blanchflower, 2009.
"International Evidence on Well-Being,"
in: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, pages 155-226
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Francisca Henriquez, 2009. "Microcrédito y su Impacto: Un Acercamiento con Datos Chilenos," OVE Working Papers 0309, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE).
- Veronica González & Pablo Ibarrarán & Alessandro Maffioli & Sandra Rozo, 2009. "The Impact of Technology Adoption on Agricultural Productivity: The Case of the Dominican Republic," OVE Working Papers 0509, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE).
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Luis Daniel Martinez).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.