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Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed? Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap between the Public and the Private Sector

Listed author(s):
  • Simon Luechinger
  • Stephan Meier
  • Alois Stutzer

    ()

    (University of Basel)

High rates of unemployment entail substantial costs to the working population in terms of reduced subjective well-being. This paper studies the importance of individual economic security, in particular job security, in workers' well-being by exploiting sectorspecific institutional differences in the exposure to economic shocks. Public servants have stricter dismissal protection and face a lower risk of their organization's bankruptcy than private sector employees. The empirical results for individual panel data for Germany and repeated cross-sectional data for the United States and the European Union show that the sensitivity of subjective well-being to fluctuations in unemployment rates is much lower in the public sector than in the private. This suggests that increased economic insecurity constitutes an important welfare loss associated with high general unemployment.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel in its series Working papers with number 2008/02.

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Date of creation: 2008
Handle: RePEc:bsl:wpaper:2008/02
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  1. 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.
  2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 1987. "How Do Public Sector Wages and Employment Respond to Economic Conditions?," NBER Chapters,in: Public Sector Payrolls, pages 183-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alois Stutzer, 2008. "Bureaucratic Rents and Life Satisfaction," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 476-488, October.
  5. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
  6. repec:fth:prinin:343 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Working Papers 722, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 285-299, June.
  10. Armin Falk & Andreas Kuhn & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "Unemployment and Right‐wing Extremist Crime," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113, pages 260-285, June.
  11. Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer & Rainer winkelmann, 2006. "The Happiness Gains From Sorting and Matching in the Labor Market," IEW - Working Papers 275, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Turunen, Jarkko, 2006. "The euro area wage curve," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 93-98, July.
  13. Gallie, Duncan & White, Michael & Cheng, Yuan & Tomlinson, Mark, 1998. "Restructuring the Employment Relationship," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198294412.
  14. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 124(2), pages 191-231.
  15. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Estimating a Wage Curve for Britain: 1973-90," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(426), pages 1025-1043, September.
  16. 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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