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Well-being and Economic Conditions in Ireland

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  • Brendan Walsh

    (University College Dublin)

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    Abstract

    By European standards Ireland ranks high on many non-economic indicators of well-being. This paper explores how macroeconomic conditions have affected a range of these indicators. Time series data are used to explore the association between unemployment, inflation, and the level and growth rate of real income on the one hand and measures of subjective well-being and markers of mental health on the other. Over the longer term, 1975-2011, there was no upward trend in self-reported life satisfaction despite the secular improvement in living standards. While higher unemployment reduced life satisfaction over the first half of this period, its effect was weaker in later years. The rate of inflation has not had a significant effect on life satisfaction. There is no evidence that admission rates to psychiatric hospitals are affected by changes in economic conditions. However, higher unemployment is linked to higher suicide rates among younger males, although its effect appears to have weakened during the current recession. Finally, the recent rise in unemployment has had a much smaller impact on the birth rate than that due to the recession of the early 1980s. Overall, the impact of the current recession on the well-being indicators studied here has been surprisingly small.

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    File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP11_27.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2011
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201127.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: 09 Dec 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201127

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    Keywords: Well-being indicators; Mental health; Suicide; Birth rate; Unemployment; Inflation;

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    1. Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel & Ronnie Schöb & Joachim Weimann, 2009. "Dissatisfied with Life, but Having a Good Day: Time-Use and Well-Being of the Unemployed," CESifo Working Paper Series 2604, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. David Madden, 2009. "Mental stress in Ireland, 1994-2000: a stochastic dominance approach," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(10), pages 1202-1217.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Luis Angeles, 2010. "Children and Life Satisfaction," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 523-538, August.
    6. John F. Helliwell & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, 2010. "Measuring and Understanding Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 15887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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