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What is the Structure of South African Happiness Equations? Evidence from Quality of Life Surveys

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  • Timothy Hinks
  • Carola Gruen

Abstract

The issue of what determines subjective well-being has been at the centre of a recent flurry of research in the economics field. A necessary part of this understanding is the role relative positions (economic, social, geographic) of economic agents, particularly individuals, play in life (commonly referred to in the literature as rivalry). In this paper we concentrate on whether the structure of happiness equations of South Africa are the same/similar to those of developed countries. The analysis uses three of the Durban Quality of Life Studies. Firstly these three data series are pooled and a variety of covariates are tested for their significance on happiness. These include age, marital status, employment status, household income and relative household income. Next we estimate yearly cross-sectional models to see if there are consistent findings of what determines happiness across the period considered. Our findings indicate there maybe some structural differences between results from the Durban studies and those of international findings. Age appears to play no role in happiness likelihood, nor does marital status. Being unemployed does significantly and negatively effect happiness as does the size of household income, relative household income and whether living in a formal dwelling place. When we distinguish between employment categories we find that being self-employed negatively affects happiness, contradicting findings for developed countries. Future research will concentrate on the most recent Durban studies, in which information on health and crime are available, both of which are expected to significantly effect happiness given the well documented nature of these problems in South Africa.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Research Southern Africa in its series Working Papers with number 16.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:16

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Blanchflower, David G., 2008. "International Evidence on Well-being," IZA Discussion Papers 3354, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Ferdi Botha & Frikkie Booysen, 2013. "The Gold of One’s Ring is Not Far More Precious than the Gold of One’s Heart: Reported Life Satisfaction Among Married and Cohabitating South African Adults," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 433-456, April.
  3. Timothy Hinks, 2012. "Fractionalization and Well-Being: Evidence from a new South African data set," Working Papers 20121202, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
  4. Dorrit Posel & Daniela Casale, 2011. "Relative standing and subjective well-being in South Africa: The role of perceptions, expectations and income mobility," Working Papers 210, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  5. Tim Hinks & Simon Davies, 2008. "Life satisfaction in Malawi and the importance of relative consumption, polygamy and religion," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(7), pages 888-904.
  6. Dorrit Posel & Daniela Casale, 2011. "Relative Standing and Subjective Well-Being in South Africa: The Role of Perceptions, Expectations and Income Mobility," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 104(2), pages 195-223, November.
  7. Hinks, Tim, 2009. "Job Satisfaction and Employment Equity in South Africa," Department of Economics Working Papers, University of Bath, Department of Economics 15956, University of Bath, Department of Economics.
  8. Ebrahim, Amina, 2010. "The Determinants Of Happiness Among Race Groups In South Africa," Honours Students' Projects 2010, Rhodes University, Department of Economics and Economic History 107588, Rhodes University, Department of Economics and Economic History.
  9. I. Khumalo & Q. Temane & M. Wissing, 2012. "Socio-Demographic Variables, General Psychological Well-Being and the Mental Health Continuum in an African Context," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 105(3), pages 419-442, February.
  10. Simon Davies & Tim Hinks, 2010. "Crime and Happiness Amongst Heads of Households in Malawi," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 457-476, August.
  11. Hodkinson, Brennan & Visser, Martine, 2013. "Effects of Objective and Subjective Income Comparisons on Subjective Wellbeing," SALDRU Working Papers, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town 118, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

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