IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cra/wpaper/2003-07.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Alois Stutzer
  • Bruno S. Frey

Abstract

Over the past few years, there has been a steadily increasing interest on the part of economists in happiness research. This paper argues that reported subjective well-being is a satisfactory empirical approximation to individual utility and endeavors to provide an impression of this new, and challenging, development. We study data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to better understand (i) the role of aspirations in the relationship between income and happiness and (ii) the effect of unemployment on people?s satisfaction with life. We discuss some of the consequences for economic policy and for economic theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2003. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," CREMA Working Paper Series 2003-07, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2003-07
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.crema-research.ch/papers/2003-07.pdf
    File Function: Full Text
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://www.crema-research.ch/abstracts/2003-07.htm
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Graetz, Brian, 1993. "Health consequences of employment and unemployment: Longitudinal evidence for young men and women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 715-724, March.
    2. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    3. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "Income and Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-019/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Van Praag, Bernard, 1971. "The welfare function of income in Belgium: An empirical investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 337-369.
    5. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? International Evidence From Changes in School-Leaving Laws," NBER Working Papers 10155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
    7. Johannes Schwarze & Marco Härpfer, 2002. "Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State?: Evidence from German Longitudinal Data on Life Satisfaction," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 285, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2001. "The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 1-30.
    9. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Clark, Andrew E & Georgellis, Yannis & Sanfey, Peter, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-241, May.
    12. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    13. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    14. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    15. Bernard M. S. van Praag & Nico L. van der Sar, 1988. "Household Cost Functions and Equivalence Scales," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(2), pages 193-210.
    16. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Is Business Cycle Volatility Costly? Evidence from Surveys of Subjective Well‐Being," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 1-26, March.
    17. Kraft, Kornelius, 2001. "Unemployment and the Separation of Married Couples," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 67-87.
    18. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    19. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    20. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    21. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-401, September.
    22. Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Peter Sanfey, 2001. "Scarring: The Psychological Impact of Past Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(270), pages 221-241, May.
    23. Martin Ravallion & Michael Lokshin, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-357, August.
    24. William Pavot & Ed Diener, 1993. "The affective and cognitive context of self-reported measures of subjective well-being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 1-20, January.
    25. van Praag, Bernard M. S., 1991. "Ordinal and cardinal utility : An integration of the two dimensions of the welfare concept," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 69-89, October.
    26. Willem Saris, 2001. "The Relationship between Income and Satisfaction: The Effect of Measurement Error and Suppressor Variables," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 53(2), pages 117-136, February.
    27. Jenkins,Stephen P. & Kapteyn,Arie & Praag,Bernard M. S. van (ed.), 1998. "The Distribution of Welfare and Household Production," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521623025, October.
    28. Gerlach, Knut & Stephan, Gesine, 1996. "A paper on unhappiness and unemployment in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 325-330, September.
    29. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    30. Easterlin, Richard A., 2001. "Life cycle welfare: evidence and conjecture," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 31-61, January.
    31. van Praag, B. M. S. & Frijters, P. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., 2003. "The anatomy of subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 29-49, May.
    32. Mueller,Dennis C. (ed.), 1997. "Perspectives on Public Choice," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521553773, October.
    33. Matthias Benz & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Being Independent is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self‐Employment and Hierarchy," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(298), pages 362-383, May.
    34. Easterlin, Richard A., 1974. "Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence," MPRA Paper 111773, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    35. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-357, August.
    36. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    37. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & William Darity, Jr., 1996. "The impact of labor force history on self-esteem and its component parts, anxiety, alienation and depression," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 183-220, April.
    38. Alex Michalos, 1985. "Multiple discrepancies theory (MDT)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 347-413, May.
    39. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "Testing Theories of Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 147, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    40. Daniel T. Slesnick, 1998. "Empirical Approaches to the Measurement of Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 2108-2165, December.
    41. Schwarze, Johannes & Härpfer, Marco, 2002. "Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? Evidence From German Longitudinal Data on Life Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 430, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    42. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? Evidence from Changes in School-Leaving Laws," Working Papers oreo-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    43. Ed Diener & Ed Sandvik & Larry Seidlitz & Marissa Diener, 1993. "The relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or absolute?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 195-223, March.
    44. 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.
    45. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997. "A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-1858, November.
    46. Richard A. Easterlin (ed.), 2002. "Happiness in Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2479.
    47. Kornelius Kraft, 2001. "Unemployment and the Separation of Married Couples," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 67-88, February.
    48. Alois Stutzer & Rafael Lalive, 2002. "Soziale Arbeitsnorm und Arbeitslosigkeit in der Schweiz," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 138(III), pages 293-316, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    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.
    2. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
    3. Antje Mertens & Miriam Beblo, 2016. "Self-Reported Satisfaction and the Economic Crisis of 2007–2010: Or How People in the UK and Germany Perceive a Severe Cyclical Downturn," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 537-565, January.
    4. Antje Mertens & Miriam Beblo, 2016. "Self-Reported Satisfaction and the Economic Crisis of 2007–2010: Or How People in the UK and Germany Perceive a Severe Cyclical Downturn," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 537-565, January.
    5. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2013. "Happiness economics," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 35-60, March.
    6. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    7. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
    8. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2008. "Gross national happiness as an answer to the Easterlin Paradox?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 22-42, April.
    9. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2004. "Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 393-415, October.
    10. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Happiness Research: State and Prospects," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(2), pages 207-228.
    11. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni, 2013. "What are we learning from the life satisfaction literature?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 60(2), pages 113-155, June.
    12. Martin Binder & Tom Broekel, 2012. "Happiness No Matter the Cost? An Examination on How Efficiently Individuals Reach Their Happiness Levels," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 621-645, August.
    13. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2002. "Subjective Questions to Measure Welfare and Well-being," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-020/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    14. Aguilar, Alexandra Cortés & García Muñoz, Teresa M. & Moro-Egido, Ana I., 2013. "Heterogeneous self-employment and satisfaction in Latin America," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 44-61.
    15. Byela Tibesigwa & Martine Visser & Brennan Hodkinson, 2016. "Effects of Objective and Subjective Income Comparisons on Subjective Wellbeing," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 361-389, August.
    16. Paul Frijters & Harry Greenwell & John P. Haisken‐DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2009. "How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction? Evidence from panel data following a nationwide exogenous shock," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 42(4), pages 1326-1346, November.
    17. Cortés Aguilar Alexandra & Teresa Garcia-Muñoz & Ana I. Moro Egido, 2013. "Heterogeneous Self-employment and Subjective Well-Being. Evidence from Latin America," ThE Papers 13/05, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    18. Böhnke, Petra & Kohler, Ulrich, 2008. "Well-being and inequality," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Inequality and Social Integration SP I 2008-201, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    19. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2005. "Unhappiness and Crime: Evidence from South Africa," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(287), pages 531-547, August.
    20. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    aspiration level; relative income; subjective well-being; unemployment; utility;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2003-07. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cremach.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Anna-Lea Werlen The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Anna-Lea Werlen to update the entry or send us the correct address (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/cremach.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.