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

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Author Info

  • Frijters, Paul

    ()
    (University of Queensland)

  • Haisken-DeNew, John P.

    ()
    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)

  • Shields, Michael A.

    ()
    (Monash University)

Abstract

We quantify the value of changes in life circumstances in Germany following reunification. To this end, we develop and implement a fixed-effect estimator for ordinal life satisfaction in the German Socio-Economic Panel. We find strong negative effects on life satisfaction from being recently fired, losing a spouse through either death or separation and time spent in hospital, whilst we find strong positive effects from income and marriage. Using a new causal decomposition technique, we find that East Germans experienced a continued improvement in life satisfaction after 1990 to which increased household incomes contributed around 12%. Most of the increase is explained by improved average circumstances, such as public services. For West Germans, we find virtually no change in satisfaction between 1991 and 1999.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 419.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2004, 39 (3), 649-674
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp419

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Keywords: random and fixed-effects; German reunification; Life satisfaction; panel;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Hunt, Jennifer, 2000. "Why Do People Still Live in East Germany?," IZA Discussion Papers 123, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," IEW - Working Papers 015, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Frijters, Paul, 2000. "Do individuals try to maximize general satisfaction?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 281-304, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Johannesson, Magnus, 1997. "The Relationship between Happiness, Health and Socio-economic Factors: Results Based on Swedish Micro Data," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 207, Stockholm School of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  16. 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.
  17. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1999. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," NBER Working Papers 7332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Clark, Andrew E & Georgellis, Yannis & Sanfey, Peter, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-41, May.
  19. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Identifying welfare effects from subjective questions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2301, The World Bank.
  20. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
  21. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  22. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Díaz Serrano, Luis, 2008. "Individual Aspirations and Satisfaction:Quantifying the Importance of Homeownership," Working Papers 2072/13268, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Kalyuzhnova, Yelena & Kambhampati, Uma, 2008. "The determinants of individual happiness in Kazakhstan," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 285-299, September.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  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. 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).
  10. repec:dgr:uvatin:2002019 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "Income and Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-019/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  12. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-42 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. 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.

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