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The Rising Well-Being of the Young

In: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries

  • David G. Blanchflower
  • Andrew Oswald

Many observers believe that times are growing harder for young people in Western society. This paper looks at the evidence and finds that conventional wisdom appears to be wrong. Using the U.S. General Social Surveys and the Eurobarometer Surveys, the paper studies the reports happiness and life-satisfaction score of random samples of young men and women. The data cover the USA and thirteen European Countries. Our main finding is that from the 1970s to the 1990s the well-being of the young increased quite markedly. A number of possible explanations are considered.

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This chapter was published in:
  • David G. Blanchflower & Richard B. Freeman, 2000. "Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blan00-1.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 6808.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6808
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    1. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
    2. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 1999. "The macroeconomics of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-1999, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    3. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
    4. Michael J. Boskin & Eytan Sheshinski, 1978. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation When Individual Welfare Depends upon Relative Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(4), pages 589-601.
    5. Randolph Mullis, 1992. "Measures of economic well-being as predictors of psychological well-being," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 119-135, March.
    6. Ruut Veenhoven, 1991. "Is happiness relative?," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-34, February.
    7. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1993. "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 10018, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    8. Robin Douthitt & Maurice Macdonald & Randolph Mullis, 1992. "The relationship between measures of subjective and economic well-being: A new look," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 407-422, June.
    9. Björklund, Anders, 1984. "Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data," Working Paper Series 120, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    10. 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.
    11. David Blanchflower & Richard Freeman, 1993. "The Legacy of Communist Labor Relations," CEP Discussion Papers dp0180, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    12. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
    13. Frank Andrews, 1991. "Stability and change in levels and structure of subjective well-being: USA 1972 and 1988," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 1-30, August.
    14. David Blanchflower, 1996. "Youth Labour Markets in 23 Countries: A Comparison Using Micro Data," CEP Discussion Papers dp0284, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    15. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
    16. Doh Shin, 1980. "Does rapid economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 199-221, June.
    17. Craig Fox & Daniel Kahneman, 1992. "Correlations, causes and heuristics in surveys of life satisfaction," Social Indicators Research- An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 221-234, November.
    18. Oswald, Andrew J., 1983. "Altruism, jealousy and the theory of optimal non-linear taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 77-87, February.
    19. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
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