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Does Unemployment Hurt Less if There Is More of It Around?: A Panel Analysis of Life Satisfaction in Germany and Switzerland

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  • Daniel Oesch
  • Oliver Lipps

Abstract

This paper examines the existence of a habituation effect to unemployment: Do the unemployed suffer less from job loss if unemployment is more widespread, if their own unemployment lasts longer and if unemployment is a recurrent experience? The underlying idea is that unemployment hysteresis may operate through a sociological channel: if many people in the community lose their job and remain unemployed over an extended period, the psychological cost of beingunemployed diminishes and the pressure to accept a new job declines. We analyze this question with individual-level data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984-2009) and the Swiss Household Panel (2000-2009). We find no evidence for a mitigating effect of high surrounding unemployment on unemployed individuals' subjective well-being: Becoming unemployed hurts as much when regional unemployment is high as when it is low. Likewise, the strongly harmful impact of being unemployed on well-being does not wear off over time, nor do repeated episodes of unemployment make it any better. It thus appears doubtful that an unemployment shock becomes persistent because the unemployed become used to, and hence reasonably content with, being without a job.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Oesch & Oliver Lipps, 2011. "Does Unemployment Hurt Less if There Is More of It Around?: A Panel Analysis of Life Satisfaction in Germany and Switzerland," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 393, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp393
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.377429.de/diw_sp0393.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Drydakis, Nick, 2015. "The effect of unemployment on self-reported health and mental health in Greece from 2008 to 2013: A longitudinal study before and during the financial crisis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 43-51.
    2. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9773-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dora Gudmundsdottir, 2013. "The Impact of Economic Crisis on Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1083-1101, February.
    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. Jasmine Lorenzini, 2015. "Subjective Well-Being and Political Participation: A Comparison of Unemployed and Employed Youth," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 381-404, April.
    6. Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "Adaptation and the Easterlin Paradox," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-01112725, HAL.
    7. Howley, P. & Knight, S., 2016. "The externality cost of neighbour’s at work: Social norm induced effects on well-being," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 16/34, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    8. Adrian Chadi, 2014. "Regional unemployment and norm-induced effects on life satisfaction," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 1111-1141, May.
    9. Christian Scheve & Frederike Esche & Jürgen Schupp, 2017. "The Emotional Timeline of Unemployment: Anticipation, Reaction, and Adaptation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1231-1254, August.
    10. Adi Pierewan & Gindo Tampubolon, 2014. "Internet Use and Well-Being Before and During the Crisis in Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 647-662, November.
    11. 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.
    12. Bürgin, Reto & Ritschard, Gilbert, 2015. "Tree-based varying coefficient regression for longitudinal ordinal responses," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 65-80.
    13. Cristina Borra & Francisco Gómez-García, 2016. "Wellbeing at Work and the Great Recession: The Effect of Others’ Unemployment," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 1939-1962, October.

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    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; unemployment; hysteresis; happiness; social norm;

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