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The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness

  • Oded Stark


  • Franz Rendl


  • Marcin Jakubek


Let a society’s unhappiness be measured by the aggregate of the levels of relative deprivation of its members. When two societies of equal size, F and M, merge, unhappiness in the merged society is shown to be higher than the sum of the levels of unhappiness in the constituent societies when apart; merger alone increases unhappiness. But when societies F and M merge and marriages are formed such that the number of households in the merged society is equal to the number of individuals in one of the constituent societies, unhappiness in the merged society is shown to be lower than the aggregate unhappiness in the two constituent societies when apart. This result obtains regardless of which individuals from one society form households with which individuals from the other, and even when the marriages have not (or not yet) led to income gains to the married couples from increased efficiency, scale economies, and the like. While there are various psychological reasons for people to become happier when they get married as opposed to staying single, the very formation of households reduces social distress even before any other happiness-generating factors kick in.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Volume (Year): 22 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 331-344

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:22:y:2012:i:2:p:331-344
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  1. M. Fleurbaey., 2012. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 2.
  2. Zeng, Dao-Zhi & Zhao, Laixun, 2010. "Globalization, interregional and international inequalities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 352-361, May.
  3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Oded Stark & Walter Hyll, 2011. "On the Economic Architecture of the Workplace: Repercussions of Social Comparisons among Heterogeneous Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 349 - 375.
  5. Greenaway, David & Gullstrand, Joakim & Kneller, Richard, 2008. "Surviving globalisation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 264-277, March.
  6. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2010. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," MPRA Paper 28905, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-78, September.
  8. Marc Fleurbaey & Guillaume Gaulier, 2009. "International Comparisons of Living Standards by Equivalent Incomes," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(3), pages 597-624, 09.
  9. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-86, April.
  10. Henrekson, Magnus & Torstensson, Johan & Torstensson, Rasha, 1997. "Growth effects of European integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1537-1557, August.
  11. Kristian Behrens & Carl Gaigné & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Jacques-François Thisse, 2007. "Countries, regions and trade: On the welfare impacts of economic integration," Post-Print halshs-00754213, HAL.
  12. Qiu, Larry D. & Zhou, Wen, 2006. "International mergers: Incentives and welfare," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 38-58, January.
  13. Oded Stark & J. Taylor, 1989. "Relative deprivation and international migration oded stark," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(1), pages 1-14, February.
  14. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  15. Luis A. Rivera-Batiz & Paul M. Romer, 1991. "Economic Integration and Endogenous Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 531-555.
  16. Rivera-Batiz, Luis A. & Xie, Danyang, 1993. "Integration among unequals," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 337-354, July.
  17. van Elkan, Rachel, 1996. "Catching up and slowing down: Learning and growth patterns in an open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1-2), pages 95-111, August.
  18. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
  19. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-324.
  21. Michael A. Quinn, 2006. "Relative Deprivation, Wage Differentials and Mexican Migration," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 135-153, 02.
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