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Subjective wellbeing in Colombia : some insights on vulnerability, job security, and relative incomes

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  • Krauss, Alexander
  • Graham, Carol

Abstract

A burgeoning literature explores the extent to which consumption or income inadequately reflect people's subjective wellbeing, just as GDP at times can provide an incomplete and misleading picture of national wellbeing. Scholars are increasingly using data on subjective wellbeing to complement traditional welfare indicators and to enrich our understanding of wellbeing and quality of life. The paper builds on the present research but it analyzes a much broader, more interdisciplinary, and more policy-relevant range of potential determinants simultaneously than currently existing in the literature on subjective wellbeing. It first analyzes the relative importance of a wide range of characteristics and conditions at the individual, household, regional and macro levels on levels of subjective wellbeing in Colombia in 2010/11; and second, assesses the marginal effects of a number of factors on perceived changes in levels of subjective wellbeing over time for the same respondents from 2008/09 to 2010/11. Findings show that increasing the quality of life of Colombians is largely conditional on minimizing risks and vulnerabilities: reducing the rate and duration of unemployment; improving the delivery of public health services; increasing the share of people with health and pension plans; enhancing safety and security in communities; and reducing levels of discrimination. It finds that job loss has particularly strong effects on levels of satisfaction that are larger than those for increased income, while also controlling for a decrease in income that is often related to being unemployed, suggesting that the human welfare (non-pecuniary) costs of unemployment are driving the strong effects. Moreover, any job, even a low-quality job, is overall better for one's subjective wellbeing than being unemployed. Finally, policy aimed at improving people's subjective wellbeing will likely have the greatest impact if focused on mitigating vulnerabilities and negative shocks that people face.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6672.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6672

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Keywords: Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Population Policies; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Rural Poverty Reduction; Labor Markets;

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  1. Mavridis, Dimitris, 2010. "Can subjective well-being predict unemployment length ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5293, The World Bank.
  2. John F. Helliwell & Shun Wang, 2011. "Weekends and Subjective Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 17180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Guven, Cahit & Senik, Claudia & Stichnoth, Holger, 2010. "You can't be happier than your wife: happiness gaps and divorce," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-007, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  4. Eggers, Andrew & Gaddy, Clifford & Graham, Carol, 2006. "Well-being and unemployment in Russia in the 1990s: Can society's suffering be individuals' solace?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 209-242, April.
  5. Helliwell, John & Huang, Haifang, 2011. "New measures of the costs of unemployment: Evidence from the subjective well-being of 2.3 million Americans," Working Papers 2011-3, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
  6. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  7. Christian Bjornskov, 2003. "The Happy Few: Cross--Country Evidence on Social Capital and Life Satisfaction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 3-16, February.
  8. Yvette Peeters & Dylan Smith & George Loewenstein & Peter Ubel, 2012. "After Adversity Strikes: Predictions, Recollections and Reality Among People Experiencing the Onset of Adverse Circumstances," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 589-600, August.
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