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The French unhappiness puzzle: The cultural dimension of happiness

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  • Senik, Claudia

Abstract

This article sheds light on the important differences in self-declared happiness across countries of similar affluence. It hinges on the different happiness statements of natives and immigrants in a set of European countries to disentangle the influence of objective circumstances versus psychological and cultural factors. The latter turn out to be of non-negligible importance. In some countries, such as France, they are responsible for the best part of the country's unobserved idiosyncratic source of unhappiness. French natives are less happy than other Europeans, whether they live in France or outside. By contrast, immigrants are not less happy in France than they are elsewhere in Europe, but their happiness fall with the passage of time and generations. I show that these gaps in self-declared happiness have a real emotional counterpart and do not boil down to purely nominal differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Senik, Claudia, 2014. "The French unhappiness puzzle: The cultural dimension of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 379-401.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:106:y:2014:i:c:p:379-401 DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.05.010
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    Cited by:

    1. Bahadır Dursun & Resul Cesur, 2016. "Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 911-956, July.
    2. Gábor Hajdu & Tamás Hajdu, 2016. "The Impact of Culture on Well-Being: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 1089-1110, June.
    3. Conzo, Pierluigi & Aassve, Arnstein & Fuochi, Giulia & Mencarini, Letizia, 2017. "The cultural foundations of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 268-283.
    4. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9797-y is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Unhappiness; Subjective well-being; International comparisons; France; European Social Survey;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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