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What does a well-being perspective add to our understanding of poverty?

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  • Shams, Khadija

Abstract

Drawing on unique survey data for rural Pakistan, we investigate the impact of socio-demographic factors on life satisfaction with particular emphasis on subjective well-being measurement to evaluate poverty and its different components. The data elicits information on overall well-being in terms of households’ satisfaction with the current socio-economic status as well as financial well-being regarding satisfaction with the current income or expenditure. We estimate a happiness model to explore to what extent a well-being perspective adds to our understanding of poverty. We find that the well-being approach closely depicts the idea of capability poverty in terms of the level education and health which both matter significantly. Our results moreover suggest that the proposed financial well-being approach is more promising in capturing both income and capability poverty on subjective grounds. This paper’s main contributions are as follows. First, we link the emerging field of happiness economics with development studies. We believe that this paper fills an important gap in the literature and may well inspire a new holistic look at poverty, beyond the conventional dimension of the lack of income. Second, we intend to challenge the view that poverty is best understood from a more macro-level without properly accounting for individuals’ own valuation of their well-being. Since poverty is often linked with human development, or the lack of it, this paper takes a special look at poverty and suggests that income poverty is only part of the picture.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 40132.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:40132

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Keywords: Well-being measurement; poverty evaluation; life satisfaction; socioeconomic indicators; rural Pakistan;

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  1. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Alesina, Alberto F & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Luis Angeles, 2009. "Do children make us happier?," Working Papers 2009_10, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  4. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2005. "Does Marriage Make People Happy, Or Do Happy People Get Married?," IZA Discussion Papers 1811, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon & John Knight, 2006. "Subjective well-being poverty vs. Income poverty and capabilities poverty?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(7), pages 1199-1224.
  9. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  10. 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.
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  12. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  14. Andrew E. Clark, 2006. "Born to be mild? Cohort effects don't explain why well-being is U-shaped in age," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590307, HAL.
  15. Sen, Amartya, 1983. "Poor, Relatively Speaking," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 153-69, July.
  16. James Horley & J. Lavery, 1995. "Subjective well-being and age," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 275-282, February.
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