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The Macroeconomics of Happiness

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  • Di Tella, Rafael
  • MacCulloch, Robert
  • Oswald, Andrew J.

Abstract

This paper shows that macroeconomic movements have strong effects on the happiness of nations. First, we find that there are clear microeconomic patterns in the psychological well-being levels of a quarter of a million randomly sampled Europeans and Americans from the 1970's to the 1990's. Happiness equations are monotonically increasing in income, and have a similar structure in different countries. Second, movements in reported well-being are correlated with changes in macroeconomic variables such as Gross Domestic Product. This holds true after controlling for the personal characteristics of respondents, country fixed-effects, year dummies, and country-specific time trends. Third, the paper establishes that recessions create psychic losses that extend beyond the fall in GDP and rise in the number of people unemployed. These losses are large. Fourth, the welfare state appears to be a compensating force: higher unemployment benefits are associated with higher national well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Economic Research Papers 269385, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uwarer:269385
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.269385
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health Economics and Policy; Labor and Human Capital;

    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
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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