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Investigating the Patterns and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Germany Following Reunification

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  • Paul Frijters
  • John P. Haisken-DeNew
  • Michael A. Shields

Abstract

This paper investigates the patterns and determinants of life satisfaction in Germany following reunification. We implement a new fixed-effect estimator for ordinal life satisfaction in the German Socio-Economic Panel and find negative effects on life satisfaction from being recently fired, losing a spouse through either death or separation, and time spent in hospital, while we find strong positive effects from income and marriage. Using a new causal decomposition technique, we find that East Germans experienced a continued improvement in life satisfaction to which increased household incomes contributed around 12 percent. Most of the improvement is explained by better average circumstances, such as greater political freedom. For West Germans, we find little change in average life satisfaction over this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Investigating the Patterns and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Germany Following Reunification," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:39:y:2004:i:3:p649-674
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    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    2. Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Johannesson, Magnus, 2001. "The relationship between happiness, health, and socio-economic factors: results based on Swedish microdata," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 553-557.
    3. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    4. Theodossiou, I., 1998. "The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological well-being: A logistic regression approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 85-104, January.
    5. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
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