IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/wly/jmoncb/v46y2014is2p117-141.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Happiness Trade‐Off between Unemployment and Inflation

Author

Listed:
  • DAVID G. BLANCHFLOWER
  • DAVID N.F. BELL
  • ALBERTO MONTAGNOLI
  • MIRKO MORO

Abstract

Unemployment and inflation lower well‐being. The macroeconomist Arthur Okun characterized the negative effects of unemployment and inflation by the misery index—the sum of the unemployment and inflation rates. This paper makes use of a large European data set, covering the period 1975–2013, to estimate happiness equations in which an individual subjective measure of life satisfaction is regressed against unemployment and inflation rate (controlling for personal characteristics, country, and year fixed effects). We find, conventionally, that both higher unemployment and higher inflation lower well‐being. We also discover that unemployment depresses well‐being more than inflation. We characterize this well‐being trade‐off between unemployment and inflation using what we describe as the misery ratio. Our estimates with European data imply that a 1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate lowers well‐being by more than five times as much as a 1 percentage point increase in the inflation rate.

Suggested Citation

  • David G. Blanchflower & David N.F. Bell & Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro, 2014. "The Happiness Trade‐Off between Unemployment and Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(S2), pages 117-141, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jmoncb:v:46:y:2014:i:s2:p:117-141
    DOI: 10.1111/jmcb.12154
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jmcb.12154
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1111/jmcb.12154?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew Leigh & Justin Wolfers, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia is Not a Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 505, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    2. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55.
    3. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
    4. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Hypertension and happiness across nations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 218-233, March.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages 222-243, June.
    8. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well‐Being," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 1-26, March.
    9. Heinz Welsch, 2007. "Macroeconomics and Life Satisfaction: Revisiting the “Misery Index”," Journal of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 237-251, November.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia," NBER Working Papers 11416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
    14. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    15. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
    17. Andreas Knabe & Steffen Ratzel, 2011. "Quantifying the psychological costs of unemployment: the role of permanent income," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(21), pages 2751-2763.
    18. Ruprah, Inder J. & Luengas, Pavel, 2011. "Monetary policy and happiness: Preferences over inflation and unemployment in Latin America," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-66, February.
    19. Woodford Michael, 2002. "Inflation Stabilization and Welfare," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-53, February.
    20. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    21. Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Michael A. Shields, 2011. "Life Satisfaction Dynamics with Quarterly Life Event Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 190-211, March.
    22. Friedman, Milton, 1971. "Government Revenue from Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 846-856, July-Aug..
    23. Heinz Welsch, 2011. "The magic triangle of macroeconomics: how do European countries score?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(1), pages 71-93, January.
    24. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gall is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2013. "Economic Experts versus Average Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 636-642, May.
    26. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
    27. Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
    28. Barro, Robert J., 1976. "Rational expectations and the role of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-32, January.
    29. Roland Bénabou & Robert Gertner, 1993. "Search with Learning from Prices: Does Increased Inflationary Uncertainty Lead to Higher Markups?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 69-93.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Nguyen, Ha & Duncan, Alan, 2015. "Macroeconomic fluctuations in home countries and immigrants’ well-being: New evidence from Down Under," MPRA Paper 69593, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2016.
    2. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ha Trong Nguyen & Luke Brian Connelly, 2018. "Out of sight but not out of mind: Home countries' macroeconomic volatilities and immigrants' mental health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 189-208, January.
    5. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2012. "Recent Developments in the Economics of Happiness: A Selective Overview," IZA Discussion Papers 7078, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Antje Mertens & Miriam Beblo, 2016. "Self-Reported Satisfaction and the Economic Crisis of 2007–2010: Or How People in the UK and Germany Perceive a Severe Cyclical Downturn," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 537-565, January.
    7. Antje Mertens & Miriam Beblo, 2016. "Self-Reported Satisfaction and the Economic Crisis of 2007–2010: Or How People in the UK and Germany Perceive a Severe Cyclical Downturn," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 537-565, January.
    8. repec:zbw:hohpro:342 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Gregor Gonza & Anže Burger, 2017. "Subjective Well-Being During the 2008 Economic Crisis: Identification of Mediating and Moderating Factors," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(6), pages 1763-1797, December.
    10. David G. Blanchflower, 2009. "International Evidence on Well-Being," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, pages 155-226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Alberto Montagnoli & Mirko Moro, 2014. "Everybody Hurts: Banking Crises and Individual Wellbeing," Working Papers 2014010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    12. repec:old:wpaper:342 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Christopher Ambrey & Christopher Fleming, 2014. "Life Satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from Ten Years of the HILDA Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 691-714, January.
    14. Heinz Welsch & Jan Kühling, 2011. "Comparative Economic Performance and Institutional Change in OECD Countries: Evidence from Subjective Well-Being Data," Working Papers V-342-11, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2011.
    15. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2017. "Home Sweet Home?: Macroeconomic Conditions in Home Countries and the Well-Being of Migrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(2), pages 351-373.
    16. Merton, Robert C, 1978. "On the Cost of Deposit Insurance When There Are Surveillance Costs," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 439-452, July.
    17. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
    18. Arik Levinson, 2013. "Happiness, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy," NBER Working Papers 19329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.
    20. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2011. "International Happiness," NBER Working Papers 16668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Krause, Annabelle, 2013. "Don’t worry, be happy? Happiness and reemployment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 1-20.
    22. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & George Ward & Femke De Keulenaer & Bert Van Landeghem & Georgios Kavetsos & Michael I. Norton, 2018. "The Asymmetric Experience of Positive and Negative Economic Growth: Global Evidence Using Subjective Well-Being Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 362-375, May.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:jmoncb:v:46:y:2014:i:s2:p:117-141. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-2879 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-2879 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.