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The Happiness Gains From Sorting and Matching in the Labor Market

  • Simon Luechinger
  • Alois Stutzer


  • Rainer Winkelmann

    (University of Basel)

Sorting of people on the labor market not only assures the most productive use of valuable skills but also generates individual utility gains if people experience an optimal match between job characteristics and their preferences. Based on individual data on subjective well-being it is possible to assess these latter gains from matching. We introduce a two-equation ordered probit model with endogenous switching and study self-selection into government and private sector jobs. In an analysis with data from the European Social Survey, we find considerable gains from matching amounting to an increase in the fraction of very satisfied workers from 53.8 to 58.8 percent relative to a hypothetical random allocation of workers to the two sectors. A companion analysis of data from the German Socio-Economic Panel shows that selection on unobservables is reduced once we include additional controls for preference heterogeneity.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel in its series Working papers with number 2007/01.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bsl:wpaper:2007/01
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  1. 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.
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  3. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2006. "Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 326-347, April.
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  12. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
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  14. Boes, Stefan & Winkelmann, Rainer, 2004. "Income and Happiness: New Results from Generalized Threshold and Sequential Models," IZA Discussion Papers 1175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Valuing Public Goods: The Life Satisfaction Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 1158, CESifo Group Munich.
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  18. Jed DeVaro, 2005. "Teams, Autonomy, and the Financial Performance of Firms," Labor and Demography 0508004, EconWPA.
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  24. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-18, May.
  25. 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.
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  27. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:963-1002 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Gregory, Robert G. & Borland, Jeff, 1999. "Recent developments in public sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 53, pages 3573-3630 Elsevier.
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