IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

  • Simon Luechinger
  • Stephan Meier
  • Alois Stutzer

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 sector-specific 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 do 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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 106.

in new window

Length: 37 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp106
Contact details of provider: Postal: Mohrenstraße 58, D-10117 Berlin
Phone: xx49-30-89789-671
Fax: xx49-30-89789-109
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Andrew Clark & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2005. "Job Security and Job Protection," CEP Discussion Papers dp0678, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. 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).
  3. Becchetti, Leonardo & Castriota, Stefano & Giuntella, Giovanni Osea, 2010. "The effects of age and job protection on the welfare costs of inflation and unemployment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 137-146, March.
  4. Luechinger, Simon & Meier, Stephan & Stutzer, Alois, 2006. "Bureaucratic Rents and Life Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 1964, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert J. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 615, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Falk, Armin & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Unemployment and Right-Wing Extremist Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 1540, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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.
  8. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Turunen, Jarkko, 2006. "The euro area wage curve," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 93-98, July.
  9. Ebbinghaus, Bernhard & Eichhorst, Werner, 2006. "Employment Regulation and Labor Market Policy in Germany, 1991-2005," IZA Discussion Papers 2505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Stewart, M.B. & Swaffield, J.K., 1996. "Constraints on the Desired Hours of Work of British Men," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 468, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  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.
  13. Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln & Matthias Schundeln, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and Self-Selection - Evidence from the German Reunification "Experiment"," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2069, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. Alan B. Krueger, 1988. "The determinants of queues for federal jobs," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(4), pages 567-581, July.
  15. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2005. "Partisan Social Happiness," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 367-393.
  18. Luechinger, Simon & Stutzer, Alois & Winkelmann, Rainer, 2006. "The Happiness Gains from Sorting and Matching in the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2019, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Working Papers 722, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  21. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  22. Alois Stutzer & Rafael Lalive, . "The Role of Social Work Norms in Job Searching and Subjective Well-Being," IEW - Working Papers 051, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  23. Anna Öster & Jonas Agell, 2007. "Crime and Unemployment in Turbulent Times," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 752-775, 06.
  24. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Investigating the Patterns and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Germany Following Reunification," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. SOEP based publications

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp106. 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: (Bibliothek)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.