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The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness

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  • Stark, Oded
  • Rendl, Franz
  • Jakubek, Marcin

Abstract

Let a society’s unhappiness be measured by the aggregate of the levels of relative deprivation of its members. When two societies of equal size, F and M, merge, unhappiness in the merged society is shown to be higher than the sum of the levels of unhappiness in the constituent societies when apart; merger alone increases unhappiness. But when societies F and M merge and marriages are formed such that the number of households in the merged society is equal to the number of individuals in one of the constituent societies, unhappiness in the merged society is shown to be lower than the aggregate unhappiness in the two constituent societies when apart. This result obtains regardless of which individuals from one society form households with which individuals from the other, and even when the marriages have not (or not yet) led to income gains to the married couples from increased efficiency, scale economies, and the like. While there are various psychological reasons for people to become happier when they get married as opposed to staying single, the very formation of households reduces social distress even before any other happiness-generating factors kick in.

Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded & Rendl, Franz & Jakubek, Marcin, 2011. "The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness," Discussion Papers 109968, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ubzefd:109968
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Henrekson, Magnus & Torstensson, Johan & Torstensson, Rasha, 1997. "Growth effects of European integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1537-1557, August.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    4. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2011. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 241-247, March.
    5. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
    7. Oded Stark & Walter Hyll, 2011. "On the Economic Architecture of the Workplace: Repercussions of Social Comparisons among Heterogeneous Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 349-375.
    8. Rivera-Batiz, Luis A. & Xie, Danyang, 1993. "Integration among unequals," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 337-354, July.
    9. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-486, April.
    10. Qiu, Larry D. & Zhou, Wen, 2006. "International mergers: Incentives and welfare," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 38-58, January.
    11. Behrens, Kristian & Gaigne, Carl & Ottaviano, Gianmarco I.P. & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2007. "Countries, regions and trade: On the welfare impacts of economic integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1277-1301, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful Integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
    2. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 28, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
    3. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions and nations," Discussion Papers 122036, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutional and Behavioral Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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