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Environment and Happiness: Valuation of Air Pollution in Ten European Countries

  • Heinz Welsch

This paper uses a set of panel data from happiness surveys, jointly with data on per capita income and pollution, to examine how self-reported well-being varies with prosperity and environmental conditions. This approach permits to show that citizens care about prosperity and the environment, and to calculate the trade-off people are willing to make between them. The paper finds that air pollution plays a statistically significant role as a predictor of intercountry and inter-temporal differences in subjective well-being. The effect of air pollution on well-being shows up as a considerable monetary valuation of improved air quality. The air quality improvements achieved in Western Europe in 1990-1997 are valued at almost $900 per capita per year in the case of nitrogen dioxide and more than $1400 per capita per year in the case of lead.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.40635.de/dp356.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 356.

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Length: 17 p.
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp356
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  1. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  2. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-22, September.
  3. Welsch, Heinz, 2002. "Preferences over Prosperity and Pollution: Environmental Valuation Based on Happiness Surveys," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 473-94.
  4. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997. "A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-58, November.
  5. Won Kim, Chong & Phipps, Tim T. & Anselin, Luc, 2003. "Measuring the benefits of air quality improvement: a spatial hedonic approach," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 24-39, January.
  6. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  7. 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.
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