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Advertising as a Major Source of Human Dissatisfaction: Cross-National Evidence on One Million Europeans

Author

Listed:
  • Michel, Chloe

    (University of Zurich, Switzerland.)

  • Sovinsky, Michelle

    (University of Mannheim, Germany, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London)

  • Proto, Eugenio

    (University of Bristol, IZA Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    (University of Warwick, and CAGE research centre, IZA Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany)

Abstract

Advertising is ubiquitous in modern life. Yet might it be harmful to the happiness of nations? This paper blends longitudinal data on advertising with large-scale surveys on citizens’ well-being. The analysis uses information on approximately 1 million randomly sampled European citizens across 27 nations over 3 decades. We show that increases in national advertising expenditure are followed by significant declines in levels of life satisfaction. This finding is robust to adjustments for a range of potential confounders including the personal and economic characteristics of individuals, country fixed-effects year dummies, and business-cycle influences. Further research remains desirable. Nevertheless, our empirical results are some of the first to be consistent with the hypothesis that, perhaps by fostering unending desires, high levels of advertising may depress societal well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Michel, Chloe & Sovinsky, Michelle & Proto, Eugenio & Oswald, Andrew J., 2019. "Advertising as a Major Source of Human Dissatisfaction: Cross-National Evidence on One Million Europeans," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 397, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:397
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    File URL: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/397-2019_chloe_sovinsky_proto-oswald.pdf
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    Keywords

    adverts; status; life satisfaction; Easterlin Paradox; positive affect JEL Classification:;

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