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Quantifying the Psychological Costs of Unemployment: The Role of Permanent Income

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  • Andreas Knabe
  • Steffen Rätzel

Abstract

Unemployment causes significant losses in the quality of life. In addition to reducing individual income, it also creates non-pecuniary, psychological costs. We quantify these non-pecuniary losses by using the life satisfaction approach. In contrast to previous studies, we apply Friedman's (1957) permanent income hypothesis by distinguishing between temporary and permanent effects of income changes. This allows us to account for intertemporal spillovers of income compensations. Our results show that, without this distinction, the non-pecuniary costs of unemployment are overestimated by roughly one-third. Nevertheless, the non-pecuniary costs of unemployment with this modified quantification method still amount to 2.3 (1.5) times the pure pecuniary costs of unemployment for men (women).This confirms the high value of work for life satisfaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel, 2007. "Quantifying the Psychological Costs of Unemployment: The Role of Permanent Income," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 32, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp32
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    unemployment; happiness; life satisfaction; permanent income;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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