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Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed?: Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap Between the Public and the Private Sector

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  • Simon Luechinger
  • Stephan Meier
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

High unemployment rates entail substantial costs to the working population in terms of reduced subjective well-being. This paper studies the importance of individual economic security, in particular job security, by exploiting sector-specific institutional differences in the exposure to economic shocks. Public servants have stricter dismissal protection and face a lower risk of their organization becoming bankrupt than private sector employees. The empirical results from individual panel data for Germany and repeated cross-sectional data for the United States and Europe show that private sector employees’ subjective well-being reacts indeed much more sensitive to fluctuations in unemployment rates than public sector employees’.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Luechinger & Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed?: Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap Between the Public and the Private Sector," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 998-1045.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:45:y:2010:i:4:p:998-1045
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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