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The Financial Crisis and the Well-Being of America

In: Investigations in the Economics of Aging

  • Angus Deaton

I use daily data on self-reported well-being (SWB) to examine how the Great Recession affected the emotional and evaluative lives of the population. In the fall of 2008 and lasting into the spring of 2009, at the bottom of the stock market, Americans reported sharp declines in their life evaluation, sharp increases in worry and stress, and declines in positive affect. By the end of 2010, in spite of continuing high unemployment, these measures had largely recovered. The SWB measures do a better job of monitoring short-run levels of anxiety than the medium-term evolution of the economy. Even very large macroeconomic shocks will cause small and hard to detect effects on SWB. Life evaluation questions are extremely sensitive to question order effects--asking political questions first reduces reported life evaluation by an amount that dwarfs the effects of even the worst of the crisis. Copyright 2012 Oxford University Press 2011 All rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

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This chapter was published in:
  • David A. Wise, 2012. "Investigations in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise11-2, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12447.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12447
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Clark, Andrew & Knabe, Andreas & Rätzel, Steffen, 2010. "Boon or bane? Others' unemployment, well-being and job insecurity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 52-61, January.
    2. Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio, 2015. "Wealth shocks, unemployment shocks and consumption in the wake of the Great Recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 21-41.
    3. Rajashri Chakrabarti & Donghoon Lee & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Household Debt and Saving During the 2007 Recession," NBER Working Papers 16999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jesse Bricker & Brian K. Bucks & Arthur Kennickell & Traci L. Mach & Kevin Moore, 2011. "Drowning or Weathering the Storm? Changes in Family Finances from 2007 to 2009," NBER Working Papers 16985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
    6. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
    7. repec:pse:psecon:2008-67 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_income_health_and_wellbeing_around_the_world_evidence_%20from_gallup_world_poll_jep_spring2008 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00586022 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
    11. Michael Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2010. "Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households," Working Papers 810, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Robert Metcalfe & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Paul Dolan, 2011. "Destruction and Distress: Using a Quasi‐Experiment to Show the Effects of the September 11 Attacks on Mental Well‐Being in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(550), pages F81-F103, February.
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