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The social costs of unemployment: accounting for unemployment duration

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  • Carsten Ochsen
  • Heinz Welsch

Abstract

This article contributes to the literature on unemployment and well-being by investigating the linkage between personal life satisfaction and a macroeconomic indicator of the duration of unemployment. Using data for more than 50 000 individuals in 10 European countries, 1992-2002, we find that the social costs of unemployment, in terms of general unemployment's impact on life satisfaction, relate significantly and to a considerable extent to unemployment duration. It is thus not just the risk of becoming or staying unemployed that people worry about, but especially the prospect of staying long-term unemployed. This fear affects employed and unemployed people alike. Our findings provide a strong point for focusing labour market policies on long-term unemployment, in addition to considerations of human capital depreciation.

Suggested Citation

  • Carsten Ochsen & Heinz Welsch, 2011. "The social costs of unemployment: accounting for unemployment duration," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 3999-4005.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:43:y:2011:i:27:p:3999-4005
    DOI: 10.1080/00036841003761900
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carol Graham & Stefano Pettinato, 2001. "Happiness, Markets, and Democracy: Latin America in Comparative Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 237-268, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    4. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    5. Bernard M. S. van Praag & Barbara E. Baarsma, 2005. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 224-246, January.
    6. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    7. Welsch, Heinz, 2006. "Environment and happiness: Valuation of air pollution using life satisfaction data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 801-813, July.
    8. Heinz Welsch, 2003. "Freedom and Rationality as Predictors of Cross-National Happiness Patterns: The Role of Income as a Mediating Variable," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 295-321, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wouter Zwysen, 2015. "The effects of father’s worklessness on young adults in the UK," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-15, December.
    2. Ochsen, Carsten, 2008. "Subjective well-being and the duration of aggregate unemployment in Europe," Thuenen-Series of Applied Economic Theory 97, University of Rostock, Institute of Economics.
    3. Zwysen, Wouter, 2013. "Where you go depends on where you come from: the influence of father’s employment status on young adult’s labour market experiences," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-24, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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