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Are You Happy While You Work?

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Author Info

  • Alex Bryson

    ()
    (NIESR and CEP)

  • George MacKerron

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Sussex)

Abstract

Recent work in psychology and economics has investigated ways in which individuals experience their lives. This literature includes influences on individuals’ momentary happiness. We contribute to this literature using a new data source, Mappiness (www.mappiness.org.uk), which permits individuals to record their wellbeing via a smartphone. The data contain more than a million observations on tens of thousands of individuals in the UK, collected since August 2010. We explore the links between individuals’ wellbeing measured momentarily at random points in time and their experiences of paid work. We explore variation in wellbeing within-individual over time having accounted for fixed unobservable differences across people. We quantify the effects of working on individuals’ affect relative to other activities they perform. We consider the effects of working on two aspects of affect: happiness and relaxation. We find paid work is ranked lower than any of the other 39 activities individuals engage in, with the exception of being sick in bed. Although controlling for other factors, including person fixed effects, reduces the size of the association its rank position remains the same and the effect is still equivalent to a 7-8% reduction in happiness relative to circumstances in which one is not working. Paid work has a similar though slightly larger negative impact on being relaxed. However, precisely how unhappy or anxious one is while working depends on the circumstances. Wellbeing at work varies significantly with where you work (at home, at work, elsewhere); whether you are combining work with other activities; whether you are alone or with others; and the time of day or night you are working.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Sussex in its series Working Paper Series with number 5713.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:sus:susewp:5713

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Keywords: happiness; relaxation; work; wellbeing.;

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References

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  1. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages F222-F243, 06.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Hypertension and happiness across nations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 218-233, March.
  3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2011. "International Happiness," NBER Working Papers 16668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Freeman, Richard B, 1978. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 135-41, May.
  5. Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2009. "Happiness and Productivity," IZA Discussion Papers 4645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Paul Dolan & Richard Layard & Robert Metcalfe, 2011. "Measuring Subjective Wellbeing for Public Policy: Recommendations on Measures," CEP Special Papers 23, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. repec:nsr:niesrd:387 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Paul Dolan & Richard Layard & Robert Metcalfe, 2011. "Measuring subjective well-being for public policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35420, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
  10. Nicholas Bloom & James Liang & John Roberts & Zhichun Jenny Ying, 2013. "Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51525, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Happiness, work & productivity
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-02-20 13:58:10
  2. Happiness vs options
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-02-27 13:18:59
  3. On happiness inequality
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2014-02-26 13:41:44
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Cited by:
  1. Angrave, David & Charlwood, Andy & Wooden, Mark, 2014. "Working time and cigarette smoking: Evidence from Australia and the United Kingdom," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 72-79.

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